the gift of life
Disability insurance provides peace of mind for a heart transplant survivor and his family.
When Northwestern Mutual agent Tom Weilert, CLU, ChFC, called on Rodney DeBaun in 1981, neither of them had any idea how many lives would be affected by the visit.
On the day they met in 1981, Rodney, then a 25-year-old real estate developer with his own company, bought his first disability policy from Tom. During the next seven years, he increased his coverage and purchased life insurance as well. However, when his company went through severe financial hardship in the late 1980s, he seriously considered canceling his coverage. Tom strongly urged him to continue the coverage, and finally convinced him that it was the right thing to do. It's a good thing he did. Ultimately, Rodney's policies would secure his family's future when disaster struck.
In early 1993, Rodney contracted a virus that destroyed nearly 90% of his heart, and he needed a transplant within six months. In bed waiting for an organ donor, Rodney felt helpless as he watched his company fall apart. But he found comfort in the insurance protection he had come very close to dropping. "If I die," he told Tom, "the life insurance will protect my family. If I live, the disability insurance will provide enough income for us to keep our home and meet our living expenses; and the cash value of my life insurance will educate my children."
On October 22, 1993, Rodney received the heart of family friend David Nicklas, who suffered a fatal motorcycle accident. It was the first case in medical history in which a donor's family requested a specific recipient by name. In another medical rarity, David's heart was a perfect match for Rodney.
Since that fateful day, Rodney has devoted his life to helping others receive the same gift of life. Working hand in hand with the Nicklas family, Rodney has established the David Nicklas Organ Donor Awareness Foundation, which encourages people to donate their organs when they die and helps to transport patients to hospitals for transplants.
Longevity in transplant patients is dramatically increased by the absence of stress. Rodney attributes his lack of stress to two factors: the sense of personal satisfaction he gets from helping others through the Foundation, and the financial security created by his insurance policies.