January 3, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Houston Alexander knew that his first-born child would be a fighter from the moment he laid eyes on her. Elan, his daughter, was born with kidney disease.

“We knew that one day she would need a kidney, and the day finally came where her kidney functions were so low that she needed a donor,” says Alexander, an MMA fighter and a radio personality on Omaha’s Power 106.9.

She was only 10 years old when that day came. Alexander already knew that he was a perfect match to be an organ donor.

“No questions asked,” he says. “There are things that you don’t think about; giving your child a kidney—or any type of vital organ—is something you don’t think about.”

Her life-saving transplant took place in 2000, a few years before Alexander’s own professional fighting debut. At the time, he was working in asphalt maintenance while pursuing his passion for hip-hop on the side.

Health and fitness continued to be a major cornerstone of Alexander’s lifestyle, which he says is essential for any organ donor or transplant recipient following a surgical operation.

In 2003, a few years after donating his kidney—around the same time he started working in local radio—Alexander began fighting professionally. His Ultimate Fighting Championship debut followed in 2007 with a huge upset, a knockout of UFC celebrity Keith Jardine within 48 seconds.

Elan was not a fighter in the same sense as her father (aka “The Assassin” in the ring). But she has been fighting health-related battles since her birth.

“My daughter is probably the toughest young lady I’ve known,” Alexander says. “I’ve never seen somebody so strong. My daughter is tougher than I am in a lot of ways.”

After more than a decade with one of her father’s kidneys, her body rejected the organ. Unfortunately, the body’s rejection of a donated organ remains a common reality for organ donor recipients. Elan is now living in New York with her name on the national transplant waiting list.

Meanwhile, Alexander often speaks about organ donation in Omaha. It’s one of many community outreach efforts with his nonprofit, the Houston Alexander Foundation (visit houstonalexander.org for more information).

Alexander will also speak at the launch party for the January/February 2019 issue of Omaha Magazine. The issue* carries a special health focus with articles on medicine and wellness topics.

One of the main feature articles  (available to subscribers and those picking up the magazine from a newsstand) is an in-depth look at the stories of organ donors, their families, and the organ recipients who received the gift of life.

The subject of organ donation carries special personal significance for me. My twin brother, Connor, was an organ donor. As a teenager getting his first driver’s license, he checked a box designating that his vital organs should be donated in the event of his death. That check mark took on real meaning after a tragic car accident in 2004.

While my brother’s life was cut short, the Connor Meigs Art Award offers other young artists help in pursuing their own artistic dreams. And, of course, the organs that he donated gave others a second chance at life.


This letter was printed in the January/February edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.