Michigan State Police Trooper Donates Part of His Liver to Former Training Officer

Michigan State Police Troopers David Burr and Christopher Boven are back on the road after Burr volunteered to be a living donor for Boven earlier this year, donating half his liver.

MLive.com, Walker, Mich.
Michigan State Police Trooper David Burr (right) donated part of his liver to Trooper Christopher Boven, the officer who trained him while both were based at the MSP Post in Rockford.
Michigan State Police Trooper David Burr (right) donated part of his liver to Trooper Christopher Boven, the officer who trained him while both were based at the MSP Post in Rockford.
Kayla Sosa/MLive/TNS

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan -- Two Michigan State Police Troopers are healthy and back on the road after one volunteered to be a living donor for the other earlier this year, donating half his liver.

Trooper David Burr, 28, of Grand Rapids, donated part of his liver to Trooper Christopher Boven, 37, of North Muskegon, the officer who trained him while both were based at the MSP Post in Rockford.

“It’s kind of the mentality that all of us have, if someone’s in need, we’re going to step up to the plate,” Burr said.

The transplant took place in adjacent operating rooms Feb. 25, 2019 at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, with support through Henry Ford Transplant Institute’s Liver Transplant Clinic at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.

Transplants can be done with deceased or living donors.

“The beauty of a living donor is it’s 100 percent and we could do it before Chris got really ill,” said Dilip Moonka, Medical Director of the Henry Ford Liver Transplant Program.

At age 13, Boven was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a chronic liver disease. He gave up contact sports and lived symptom-free until 2017 when a thorn bush scratch turned into a series of skin infections that sent his immune system and PSC into overdrive.

Doctors told him in spring 2018 that a liver transplant was inevitable.

Burr’s gift of life came after dozens of Michigan State Police officers and others volunteered for the screening to donate. Boven said he sent an initial email out to inform his co-workers about his medical condition.

“I got a call probably three weeks later from Henry Ford and they basically said, ‘Look, I don’t know what you’re doing, but you need to stop because we’ve got too many people that are signing up,’” Boven said.

A couple troopers, and Boven’s brother, attempted to donate but weren’t a good enough match. It wasn’t until Burr was tested and found to be a match for his former field training officer (FTO).

“Chris was my first FTO right out of the academy,” Burr said. “We both have similar personalities, so it made it easier to learn. We got along right off the bat.”

Both livers regrew to normal size within three months, medical officials said. They both are back at work and healthy.

Even though they work at separate posts now, Burr and Boven keep in touch.

Boven will be taking anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life.

“There’s definitely a brotherhood, not only among the state police, but in law enforcement and public service all around,” Boven said.

“This is just what we do. If we’re in a situation where one of us is in danger, we’re going to help no matter what. This is no different than if I’m in a gun battle and he’s coming to help me. I’m still battling for my life and he stepped up to the plate and donated.”

Boven said he’s happy to be able to be around for his wife, Alex and their 4-year-old son.

“I get to experience (my son’s) life now,” Boven said.

“Sometimes when I’m out living life, up in the dunes, out on a walk or whatever the situation, sometimes it kind of hits you. I’m here, I’m looking out my own eyes because of what he sacrificed. I’ll just snap a picture and send him a text, ‘Hey, appreciate what you did.’”

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