On the surface Gainesville resident Pete Shauf and C.D. Machac seemed very different. But the two are alike in some ways.

They shared a rare blood type — AB Positive — and a love for physical fitness. Both liked jokes and making other people laugh.

They also shared another bond.

Shauf, who is nearly 70, received a kidney in 2004 from Machac (pronounced ma-hoch) after the talented high school student was pronounced brain dead following a motorcycle crash.

C.D. Machac was 17 when he died.

His mother, Donna Machac, said she loves to talk about her only son. He was an amazing person who loved his motorcycles and running cross country.

He was on the cross county team at his small high school in Crowell, a town of about 1,100 near Wichita Falls.

He was a quick learner who took to driving anything after he was taught how.

He picked up the basics of operating a car, a tractor, and of working a stick shift.

But motorcycles were his favorite form of transportation.

“He loved riding dirt bikes,” Donna Machac said.

The first time he got on a bike, “he just took off,” she said.

C.D. was so dedicated to training for cross country meets and winning the competition at the state level, he chose to continue his long distance training even though it meant giving up a spot on his high school football team.

He liked to run to the mailbox each day for his mother — an almost 3 mile trip on the ranch the family lives and works on.

C.D. loved the long stretches of farmland — places where one could really be alone with only the livestock, the birds and the almost constant wind. It was a perfect place to ride dirt bikes and good place to grow up.

C.D.’s father is a longtime employee of the W.T. Wagner Estate Ranch, a 537,000 acre operation that has been billed as “the largest continuously operating ranch under one fence in Texas.”

He didn’t drink or use tobacco, and he had a weakness for sweet treats. He often filled his pockets with miniature candy cars, his mother said.

He was also fond of jokes and made everyone, including his teachers and school administrators laugh.

He was also the kind of kid who would help others.

Donna Machac remembers a story about C.D.

Her son and a group of friends were walking through a school building. A small boy was bent over his shoe struggling to get the laces tied.

C.D. attended a small school in which elementary students and high school students are on the same campus.

“C.D. just stopped and tied the boy’s shoe lace and went right on walking,” she said. He was like that. If he could help someone, he did.

Donna quickly puts strangers at ease when they ask about her son.

“It’s been three years. I can talk about it,” she said.

Clinton Duane Machac was his parent’s only son. Donna Machac has a daughter, Callie Ayers, and a 3-year old granddaughter.

She said she has made a few speeches for transplant awareness and doesn’t mind talking to reporters.

However, she has one request: She wants her son treated with respect.

He isn’t here to speak for himself and sadly, most of the people to whom she talks did not have the chance to get to know her boy.

She said she and C.D. never really had an opportunity to discuss organ donation.

When she took him to Vernon to renew his driver license, he saw the question about organ donation and asked about it.

The clerk told C.D. he wasn’t legally old enough to sign up for the donor registry on his own.

Donna planned to discuss the matter some other time. There was time for that, she believed.

“I thought, ‘We’ll talk about that later,’” she said. “Two weeks later, he died.”

C.D. worked on the Wagoner Ranch and saved his money to buy a dirt bike.

“Every dime went into a savings account,” she said.

Donna had hoped C.D. would spend his hard-earned money on a car.

But his heart was set on the dirt bike, and once he got his Suzuki RM 250, he was thrilled.

He liked to ride with his friends any time he got the chance.

C.D., a close friend and two cousins headed out on a Sunday in September 2004 to ride on a private dirt track.

There was a new ramp at the track and C.D. wanted to try it out. The group had not been at the track long when it happened.

“He was going too fast, and he did not make the jump,” Machac said.

He was wearing protective gear including a helmit, but his injuries were severe.

C.D. was taken to Wilbarger General Hospital and later airlifted to a Wichita Falls facility.

Within two days doctors told his parents they could detect no brain wave activity in their son. He was pronounced brain dead on Tuesday, she said.

Machac said she and her husband discussed organ donation, and that it was Clinton Machac who ultimately made the decision to donate their son’s organs after talking with a minister and her daughter, Callie.

“He had a rare blood type and it wouldn’t be right to take other people with him,” Machac said.

Still, the decision was agonizing in a way that most cannot understand.

“I always thought things like this happened to other people,” Machac said. “You never think it will happen to your kid.”

“I left the hospital when my son passed away,” she said.

She said she was afraid if she stayed any longer she couldn’t bring herself to allow doctors to go through with preparations for removing her son’s organs.

“He was laying there so peacefully. You’re hoping he’s gonna wake up. It looks like he could wake up any time,” she said.

She stopped for a moment and looked at her beloved son. Then she slipped out of the room.

Mourners overflowed the facility at C.D.’s funeral.

“If you met him one time you remembered him. You couldn’t have known a kinder soul,” she said.

Machac said in an interview with writer Joyce Ann Ashley of the Vernon Daily Record, she has nothing but praise for the Southwest Transplant Alliance of Dallas who she said took care of the arrangements for the surgical team and continue to support their donor families.

The group contacts Machac on C.D.’s birthday and on the anniversary of his death, she told the reporter.

“It’s a non-profit organization and it’s amazing the support they give,” she said.

Two individuals received C.D.’s organs — Pete Shauf received one of C.D.’s kidneys. Another Texas man got his other kidney and C.D.’s pancreas.

Because of his rare blood type, Machac said no donor was found for C.D.’s heart.

The transplant organization asked Machac if she would like to contact the recipients of her son’s organs.

She poured her emotions into letters for the two men.

Only Shauf wrote back.

Machac said she believes the other organ recipient is a man who has diabetes and lost kidney and pancreas function as a result of his disease. She said as far as she knows he is doing well.

She has no idea why he did not write back, but said she can understand that he might be reluctant.

However, she wants the recipient to know one thing: She wishes him well. She also hopes he doesn’t harbor any guilt.

“C.D. was brain dead and could not be saved. He always shared himself with others when he was alive and it was only right that he should share himself when he died,” she said.

When Pete Shauf and his wife, Susie, got Donna Machac’s letter they responded.

They planned a meeting at Dieter Bros. barbecue restaurant in Lindsay.

Machac brought along two of her son’s closest friends for support.

“The two boys broke the ice,” she said.

She was already at the restaurant when Shauf walked in.

“He came up to me and said, ‘Are you Donna?’ I said yes I was. I had a tear in my eye,” Machac recalled.

She said she didn’t know what to expect at the meeting. She was excited and apprehensive.

“I was afraid that I would feel motherly. I guess I was afraid I was going to look for my son in Pete. But my son is not in Pete. My son is in heaven,” she said.

Today the Shaufs and Donna Machac are close friends.

Machac, a game board crafter, made a game board (similar to the marble game Wahoo) for the couple. She does all kinds of woodwork, burning images into smooth pieces of wood which she covers with polyurethane.

The Shaufs have some of Donna’s work in their country home.

Sitting in a chair in Shauf’s office — the Shaufs own Petroflex, a local plastic pipe manufacturing company — she said she doesn’t want the story to be only about C.D.

“This is Pete’s story,” she said.

Shauf is a polite man, quiet during most of the interview but quick with a kind smile.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Shauf said he grew up in the South, served in the military and was an adventurous type with a strong sense of right and wrong.

Like C.D., Shauf was athletic and even made all-state in football as a teenager.

Above all, Shauf seems grateful for the gift that saved his life.

He admits he didn’t always take good care of himself.

By 2004, he was very ill. His kidneys were failing and his doctor placed him on a three-day a week dialysis regimen.

Dialysis is an uncomfortable, time-consuming procedure in which a patient’s blood is cleansed, Susie Shauf said.

It was hard on Shauf who continued working during the 18 months he was on dialysis.

“I started at 6 a.m. and got to work around 10:45,” he said.

“I felt weak, had headaches and was depressed.”

“It stressed him emotionally,” Susie Shauf said.

His rare blood type, something he said he found out about after a military physical, never caused him any problems.

There is also a good chance the rare blood type saved his life.

Having type AB Positive blood made him a good match for C.D.’s kidney.

Shauf said it’s hard to explain how one feels after a life-saving event such as an organ transplant.

“You’ve never had a new life given to you,” he pointed out.

Following his transplant, he vowed to nurture his body and cultivate good health.

He said he feels well and is devoted to exercise.

Shauf spends a lot of time in the gym working out with his trainer, Scott Green.

He is an avid stair-stepper who puts in about 45 minutes during a typical session.

Susie Shauf also enjoys working out although, perhaps, not as much as her husband does.

The couple spend time caring for their livestock and their farm animals — six horses, a herd of cows, three dogs and a cat.

Machac said the decision to donate her son’s organs wasn’t easy, however, she takes comfort in her warm relationship with the Shaufs.

“Pete and Susie are amazing people,” she said.

She doesn’t pretend to understand why things happened as they did for her son. Both she and her husband continue to deal with unimaginable grief. But they are doing well, she said.

“C.D. left so many wonderful memories — enough to last me the rest of my life and when God’s ready we’ll be together again,” she said.

Reporter Delania Trigg may be

contacted at dtrigg@ntin.net

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