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He asked his fellow Star Wars fans for help. One saved his son's life

When Josh Beale's son Drew fell ill, Josh asked his fellow Star Wars fans in the 501st Legion for help. One of them saved Drew's life.
He asked his fellow Star Wars fans for help. One saved his son's life
Posted at 7:06 PM, Mar 13, 2024

Sometimes when bad things happen, the bad guys show up. But some Darth Vaders, stormtroopers and Boba Fetts like to say they're "bad guys doing good." They're members of a Star Wars costume group called the 501st Legion.

Melvin Woods has been in the 501st for three years. The group makes charity appearances at hospitals, ball games and community events. It's where Melvin met Josh Beale. 

They bonded over their love of a galaxy far, far away — but closer to home, there was trouble. Josh's 16-year-old son Drew was sick. His kidneys were failing.

"They noticed that bloodwork on his kidneys was not looking good," said Beale. 

Drew needed a transplant, and fast. But his family? Not a match. So his dad went public.

"Basically it was a pleading request to help me save my hero," said Beale. 

Josh posted to Facebook, figuring he could count on the 501st to get the word out. The agonizing wait stretched into months — but Josh didn't know that Melvin had a secret.

"As a father, if any of my children needed that same thing, I would want someone to step up," said Woods. 

Melvin had decided he would give Drew, a relative stranger, one of his healthy kidneys. For months he'd been quietly getting tested.

"I did not say anything to Josh because I wanted to make sure that I can match," said Woods. 

The Force was with them. Melvin was a match. And after a yearlong process, last week the 501st gathered to escort Drew and Melvin to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio for the transplant surgery.

With the average wait time for a kidney transplant anywhere from three to five years, Melvin wants to inspire more people to become living organ donors.

"We're not giving up anything. But we are potentially providing something so much greater to someone else," Woods said.

The surgery was a success. Melvin and Drew are now recovering at home.

"Really, I'd just like to say thank you," Drew Beale said. "Just a big thank you to him."

Knowing Melvin's love of coins, Josh and Drew had a special one made just for him.

"On the backside is Vader with his lightsaber and it says 'We will forever be grateful,'" Josh Beale said. "And the kidney is stained glass so when you hold it up to the light it's kind of the kidney color."

"I want [Drew] to be able to experience life, to do new things. To have a career. To be able to fulfill his goals and dreams," Woods said.

Sometimes it's the fictional bad guys who are the biggest real-life heroes.

"Who can honestly say that the obsession of two dads saved a kid's life?" Woods asked. "I don't have the words. Thank you doesn't seem enough."

SEE MORE: Mother of 'Star Wars' child actor details his mental health struggles

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