Ogden man killed in 2017 saved 3 lives as organ donor

Brian Housley signed up to be an organ donor when he got his driver's license. After he was killed in a shooting in 2017 his organs saved three lives.

Brian Housley signed up to be an organ donor when he got his driver's license. After he was killed in a shooting in 2017 his organs saved three lives. (Darcie Housley)

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KETCHUM, Idaho — An Ogden man's decision to donate his organs saved three people and now he lives on through their lives.

Some days are tougher than others for Ray Groth, but he is always determined to get outside, even through bouts of pneumonia, like the one he's getting over right now.

"No idea what causes it, what brings it on, but every year I get it," he said.

He values his passion for cross-country skiing because not that long ago, he couldn't do much at all.

"My heart was just like a big, it was just, it wasn't even pumping," he explained.

He has a condition that causes plaque to build up around the heart, which at the time, put him in the hospital for six weeks.

"I was just sitting, waiting, trying to do the best I can," he explained.

David Cooper went through something similar. He said, "I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as an adult, at almost 30 years old."

His pancreas and kidney were failing but four years ago, at the same time, Cooper and Groth got the calls they had been waiting for.

"It's been kind of something special for my kids," Cooper explained. "I think I've recognized there's more I can be and do for them."

Both men are alive today thanks to Brian Housley. The 28-year-old was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting in November 2017. Police said he wasn't even the target. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He did that so he could help somebody else, and he saved several people's lives," said his mother, Darcie Housley.

She said it was an easy decision for Brian, checking it off when he first got his driver's license.

"He goes, 'Well why wouldn't somebody want to do that? Of course, they'd want to do that,'" she said. "So, he signed right up for it on his own."

Nowadays she keeps a reminder close. "We have his heartbeat in this little dog," she said while holding a teddy bear that plays a recording of her son's beating heart.

It was a gift from Groth and his wife. A recording of Brian's heart now beating in Groth's chest.

Darcie said, "Just amazing you know, to see that he kind of goes on in a way, you know?"

She said a third person, who she hasn't been able to connect with, also got a transplant from Brian.

His death is still unsolved. But through one tragedy the Housley's now have a few more family members.

"Hi David. I'm Ray Groth." KSL was there as Ray and David met for the first time.

Darcie was there too. "This is my son because he's a lot younger than me," she said pointing at David.

Then she pointed at Ray and said laughing, "You can be my dad."

David and Ray said Brian is always in his thoughts.

"I think about him a lot and I recognize that I kind of bring him along in a journey with me," David explained.

The two recipients are enjoying a bond, unlike anything they've ever experienced before.

"Maybe we're kind of genetically brothers now you know?" Ray said with a chuckle.

It's all thanks to that one choice.

"I'm here because of Brian and I'm still able to do things that I like to do because of Brian," he added.

Every day is a gift.

Ray said Brian is there now for every adventure, especially when he is cross-country skiing. "Some of those hills out there I'll say, 'Come on Brian, let's do it. I know you can do it.'"

He said, "I wish I'd have met him."


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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.


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