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How a friendship formed over a donated heart

A follow up to the story of Adam Prashaw and the journey his heart made back into his father's life
2019-02-15-SoarAdamSoar
Adam and Rick Prashaw celebrate Adam's 22nd birthday. Adam died later that year. Contributed Image

Christmas festivities for many families are filled with celebration and joy, while others join hands around dinner tables forevermore missing a chair, wrote John Dickhout when describing his feelings on Facebook after receiving a heart from an organ donor in 2016.

“For some of us, the greatest gift received this Christmas came at a countless cost to so many … It is the best of days. It is the worst of days.”

The heart that now pumps life-sustaining blood through Dickhout’s body once belonged to Adam Prashaw, who died at 22 of a seizure-related drowning.

Adam’s obituary describes him as a proud and outspoken member of the transgendered community and an excellent goalie with a special affection for Habs netminder Carey Price.

He was the son of Suzanne Corbeil and Rick Prashaw.

Rick, was a Catholic priest, journalist and former Sault MP Tony Martin’s legislative assistant.

Prashaw wrote Soar, Adam, Soar, (2019) which tells Adam’s story and the joyful courage with which he took on life’s challenges.

That story and the remarkable bond between Adam, Rick and Dickhout is the focus of a new podcast made possible through a Canada Council for the Arts. A Council initiative invited artists to submit applications to take their original work and adapt it to a digital platform. It was a way to support artists during the pandemic.

Prashaw thought his book about Adam was a good fit. Dickhout was also enthusiastic.

“We just jumped into it and pulled in a few other really talented people,” said Prashaw.

Prashaw said the Canada Council had 4,800 applications for its digital originals project and about 1,100 were accepted.

People can now view the first two instalments of the podcast at giftsoflife.ca.

Two more will be added Tuesday.

Prashaw said many people will already know the story outlined in the first two instalments. He said the third has some surprises.

“John describes his waking up and wanting to know who the donor is and how he figures it out. So, you follow him on this journey, and it’s really interesting,” said Prashaw.

Generally, donor recipients do not know the donors’ identities, so the Prashaw-Dickhout relationship is unique. Three other people have Adam’s donated organs which include two kidneys and a liver.

Prashaw described the story of Adam’s heart donation as the gift that keeps on giving.

He said the friendship he struck with Dickhout is a silver lining to a tragic story. Dickhout’s new lease on life allowed him to pursue his dream of acting. He also recently ran a 10-kilometre race. The podcast and book are helping to encourage organ donation and acceptance of those who are transgendered.

Prashaw can’t help but feel Adam is behind it all with his sense of humour and mischief.

In the early days after writing Soar Adam Soar, Prashaw said the book was looked at as being about transgendered themes.

“It’s human nature and certainly in the publishing world, everybody wants to know what section to put a book in. We sometimes want to put a label on things,” said Prashaw.

Prashaw has no problem with the book and podcast being thought of as a look at transgendered identity, a promotion of organ donation or both.

However, it’s more than that.

He said a light went off in his head when an interviewer described Soar Adam Soar as a love story.

“As difficult as it was, he (Adam) loved himself enough to be who he was,” said Prashaw.

Prashaw simply set out to tell a story about Adam and John. Any positive reactions and results flow naturally from that.

Prashaw currently has about “nine books in his head, heart and soul.”

Prior to writing Soar Adam Soar, he was working on a book about his dad’s war story which turned into a creative non-fiction love story about his dad and mother.

“I want to get back to that,” he said.

However, before resuming research into that project, Prashaw plans to finish his faith memoir.

“I’m almost done,” he said. “It’s pretty much a 50-year story that, of course, includes my 11 years in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie as a Catholic priest.”

The working title of that book is Father Rick, Roaming Catholic.

“I’ve written for other people all my life in journalism, religion and politics. Now, I want to write for myself.”

Go to the website giftsoflife.ca to view the conversations between Rick and John about Adam’s “gift that keeps on giving.”