By Chris Karenbauer
In the fall of 2021, Senior Professor of Communication Dr. Chuck Elliott received news that his kidneys
were failing. His doctor immediately put Elliott on a waitlist for a new kidney. Twenty years earlier, Elliott lived in Hong Kong, China, with his wife and children as a communication professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. Because of the stress of living in Hong Kong, Elliott experienced health issues. His doctors realized too late that he had high blood pressure, which damaged
his kidneys. The doctors put Elliott on a strict diet, hoping that it could improve his health. Elliott’s blood pressure
returned to normal, but his kidneys were still not functioning properly. “The strategy at that point was to try to maintain the kidney function at its level as long as possible,” said Elliott. “Preventative types of things and diet change became part of my way of life.”
In 2003, after 20 years of living in Hong Kong, Elliott and his family moved back to the United States, hoping that Elliot’s health would improve. During the 20 years after moving back from Hong Kong, Elliott became a communication professor at Cedarville University, where he teaches communication classes
like Intercultural Communication and Communication Theory. When Elliott received the news about his kidneys in 2021, the doctors asked him about being put on a
waiting list for a kidney transplant. “To say I’m on the list is misleading because it’s not really a list,” said Elliott. “You’re qualified to get a
kidney when it becomes available and if it matches you.”
There are two ways Elliott can receive a kidney. The most common method is through someone who recently died, like in a car crash. If the kidney matches him, Elliott would receive a phone call from Ohio State University. Elliott would have four hours to get to OSU before the kidney loses its vitality to get the
The other method is finding somebody who would voluntarily give Elliott their kidney. The live donor method is preferable because the kidney is in better condition and it starts working faster after the transplant. In the meantime, Elliott relies on a dialysis machine to keep his body healthy.
Although his need for a kidney is urgent, Elliott ironically has trouble communicating with people to consider donating a kidney to him.
“I felt confident that the doctors were taking care of the health situation,” said Elliott, “but what I couldn’t do was the communication part. I did not have it in me to do that.”
Professor Derrick Green, the Chair of the Communication Department, teaches a class called Virtual Communication that requires students to create a social media campaign. During the fall semester of 2022, senior Broadcasting and Digital Media major Haley Thompson and a group of students founded
Deep Calls for Life to help Elliott find a kidney donor.
“It was just beyond my capability to ask someone to donate their kidney to me,” said Elliott. “The students became my advocate. They became my voice to put out the need and to make a case for stepping in and doing something so sacrificial. That took a great burden off me because I knew it had to
be done, and I knew I couldn’t do it.”
Deep Calls for Life is inspired by Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your
breakers and your waves have gone over me.” Thompson said that Elliott clings onto this Bible verse during hard times.
“Deep needs need deep answers and deep responses, “ said Elliott in response to Deep Calls for Life’s
campaign. Thompson previously took Intercultural Communication and Communication Theory with Elliott, and he
taught Thompson to love and respect people and their cultures.
“I longed to help Dr. Elliott in some way to show him my appreciation for everything he had done for me,” said Thompson. “He loves his students so deeply, and it broke my heart to think about the fact that he may not be able to teach much longer due to his health.”
In the meantime, Elliott relies on family and friends for spiritual healing. He sent out letters to extended family members and friends to ask them to pray for him. “There is an army of prayer warriors who are committed to raising my need to the Lord,” said Elliott. “There are so many people involved in this and that’s a tremendous encouragement to me.”
The faculty and students at Cedarville University have also committed themselves to encourage Elliott through this time. Mark Weinstein, the Executive Director of Public Relations, organized a time for Elliott to be interviewed on a TV health program. Additionally, Thompson continues to run the Deep Calls for
Life Instagram page to advocate for Elliott’s kidney. “It was such a blessing to see how many students, alumni and faculty who love Dr. Elliott and reached
out asking how they could help him,” said Thompson. “Only God could be the one to make a small school assignment turn into a movement of people seeking to love and care for someone in need.”
Elliott puts his faith in God’s plan for his life. He said that it’s not easy waiting for a kidney because he loses a part of his life relying on a machine to keep his body healthy. “I have a lot of time to think at night when I’m on the dialysis machine,” said Elliott. “I have been impressed by the idea that we are not meant to walk alone. Not only do we have that peace and presence of the Lord with us, but as we share our burdens with others, and they walk with us, they not
only help us through the hard times, but they get to rejoice with us when God does something amazing. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
View Deep Calls for Life’s Instagram page @deepcallsforlife
Chris Karenbauer is a senior Journalism major and the Editor-in-Chief for Cedars. She enjoys reading and
writing, hanging out with friends and listening to music.