Ross: Organ donor families finally get a chance to reconnect with the lives their loved ones saved
It was three years ago on this show that we ran an interview with a friend of mine, Jeff Siddqui, about his heart transplant; what it was like to go through a ten-hour operation and wake up 2 and a half days later with a stranger’s heart in your chest.
As he said at the time – definitely one of those things that call for a prayer before you go in:
“Essentially, I said, if it’s your will that I die, then I’m at peace with it,” Siddqui said. “But if I’m to survive help me help someone else as well.”
He also told me back then he was curious to know whose heart was now beating in his chest:
“I’m not told the gender, the age, or even the location from where the heart came,” Siddqui said. “All I know is it was a young person.”
A 22-year-old man, as it turned out.
What neither of us knew when Jeff’s interview aired in January of 2020 was that the donor’s mom, Corrie, was listening. She had lost her son in a motorcycle accident. He was an organ donor, and she had a hunch, so she sent a letter. Sure enough, it was her son’s heart keeping Jeff alive.
In April of 2020, Jeff and Corrie met – the only way it was safe – via Zoom:
“I daresay Cory and I would have met in person quite a long time ago,” Siddqui said. “But for this COVID business.”
“If it was up to me in this, we weren’t in the middle of this COVID crisis we would have met already,” Corrie said. “I can’t wait for the opportunity to actually shake his hand, give him a hug.”
Well, yesterday, in Bellevue, Life Center NW held its annual Donation Celebration, where donor families and recipients gather to share stories and memories – they even have stethoscopes there to hear the hearts that still beat – and I can report to you that Corrie and Jeff were there to finally meet in person.
I was there to introduce Jeff’s speech to the group, but mostly I just sat there admiring the courage of so many families who at their worst moment wanted to turn their tragedy into a second chance at life for someone else.
I also got to meet Corrie; we talked a little about what she’d been through, and all I’ll say is that the world needs people with her kind of faith.
And that little red heart on their driver’s license.
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