Lung transplant recipient meets family of the donor who saved her life

November 4th, 2019
Mom holding a portrait of her son, while transplant recipient meets family of the donor who saved her life.
Linda Regis, recipient of a double lung transplant, gazes down at a portrait of her donor, Shakespeare Log, as his parents look on. Just like Linda, Shakespeare was a big Denver Broncos fan. Photos by Justin Tafoya/Clarkson Creative for UCHealth.

Shakespeare Log wasn’t at the Broncos’ UCHealth Training Center before a recent big game. But, his spirit filled the room.

Nearly three years ago, Shakespeare, 32, died suddenly when an aneurysm burst a blood vessel in his brain while he was at his Best Buy Geek Squad job in Lakewood. His death devastated his family, but he was able to give life to Linda Regis and her loved ones.

When Shakespeare died, Regis, of Colorado Springs, was on a waiting list for a double lung transplant she needed after years of struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. She got her new lungs in early November 2016 from a then-unknown benefactor. It turned out that Shakespeare was the person who saved her life. The transplant forged a bond that on this Broncos game day would be forever strengthened.

Linda Regis holds her hand over her chest as she wears a Denver Broncos jersey and talks to the mother of her lung donor.
Double lung transplant recipient, Linda Regis, holds her hands to her chest as she speaks with her donor’s mom. All are Broncos fans and got to have a pre-game reunion at the UCHealth Training Center.

Transplant recipient meets family

On Sunday, a rejuvenated Regis, wearing a shirt with the words, “A Transplant Saved My Life,” stood nervously in the Training Center room, surrounded by friends and family, including the baby great granddaughter she called “my little cowgirl,” waiting to meet Shakespeare’s family. With her childhood friend Faye Hogan standing by, Regis recalled the day she learned the transplant team at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus had found a match for her. The memories brought feelings of joy and sadness in equal measure.

“I went into shock,” she said. “But I knew in my head and in my heart that there had been a loss.” Regis referred to “my angel friend” when she thought of and even spoke to the departed person who had saved her life.

Regis wanted more – to know the identity of her donor.

Shakespeare Log died suddenly as a young man. Here, his mom listens to her son's lungs, which were transplanted into Linda Regis.
Shakespeare Log died suddenly as a young man. His lungs enabled Linda Regis to have a double lung transplant. Here, Shakespeare’s mom listens as Linda breathes with Shakespeare’s lungs.

“That was the biggest part of my dream, that I could call his name.”

She eventually connected with the Log family, which led to the Sunday meeting.

The Logs brought a large contingent to the Training Center for a dramatic entrance. Shakespeare’s father led a procession into the room, bearing a large photo of Shakespeare wearing a Denver Broncos jersey with former quarterback Peyton Manning’s number 18. A tearful Regis tightly hugged the family members.

“My heart goes out to you,” Regis said.

Linda Regis wears a sweatshirt saying, "A transplant saved my life" while she, a transplant recipient, meets family of the donor.
Double lung transplant recipient Linda Regis meets family of Shakespeare Log, the donor who saved her life. In the background, Shakespeare Log’s dad holds his portrait.

“I loved how you were so appreciative of Shakespeare,” his older brother, Karng, told her.

Cycle of life

The Manning jersey was a reminder of just one eerie link between Shakespeare and Linda. He was a die-hard fan of the great quarterback, as the smiling photo suggested. Regis, also a Manning fan, had emerged from anesthesia after her transplant surgery asking if the quarterback was around. Karng noted other odd connections, such as his wife, Caroline, having a sister named Linda.

Broncos jersey dedicated to Shakespeare Log, an organ donor.
Former Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, signed a jersey that he dedicated to organ donor, Shakespeare Log.

The strongest bonds between donor and recipient, however, are the two lungs inside Linda Regis’ body. In a moving testament to Shakespeare’s ongoing presence, his parents used a stethoscope to listen to Regis inhaling and exhaling through their son’s lungs.

A portrait of Shakespear Log, a transplant donor, who loved Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Shakespeare Log loved Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. He died as a young man, but gave life to Linda Regis.

For Karng, the sound of Regis breathing demonstrated that Shakespeare has never really left.

“My brother is there. My brother is alive,” Karng said. “It gives you that moment that you are with him.”

That Shakespeare was a donor was no surprise, Karng added.

“He was a selfless person. He knew what others needed,” he said.

Shakespeare’s brother looked toward the grateful Regis, surrounded by the loved ones she came so close to losing. Now, she has the gift of life – her own and a new great grandson who is on the way.

“This could not have happened to a better person,” Karng said. “Now [Regis’s family] can carry on her memory when she passes. There are things that link us all together,” he added. “I believe that our lives are linked.”

About the author

Tyler Smith has been a health care writer, with a focus on hospitals, since 1996. He served as a writer and editor for the Marketing and Communications team at University of Colorado Hospital and UCHealth from 2007 to 2017. More recently, he has reported for and contributed stories to the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the Colorado School of Public Health and the Colorado Bioscience Association.