Families of Heart Recipient and Donor Have Tearful Meeting - NECN

Families of Heart Recipient and Donor Have Tearful Meeting

Only five percent of donor families and recipients choose to meet

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    A 58-year-old Maine man is recovering from a heart transplant he received Valentine's Day last year. One year later, he got the chance to thank the family of the donor who, in death, gave him life.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017)

    A 58-year-old Maine man is recovering from a heart transplant he received Valentine's Day last year. One year later, he got the chance to thank the family of the donor who, in death, gave him life.

    Brian Wade of Portland was back at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where he met the family of 42-year-old Manny Lopes.

    Lopes, a resident of Barnstable, Massachusetts, died from respiratory failure. He was a father, brother and son. 

    Wade says he was nervous to meet Lopes' family. 

    "It's hard for me because their life has gotten so tough, but mine has got nothing but better," Wade said.

    However, when the Lopes family walked into the private lounge at Brigham and Women's, there were only smiles, hugs, and thank yous.

    Only 5 percent of donor families and recipients choose to meet. In this case, the two families had very different journeys. 

    Pat Lopes says her son was a very likeable and fun person, who decided to be an organ donor at an early age. She finds comfort in knowing his organs have helped save four people. 

    The other recipients have not reached out, but Wade, his son and his wife felt compelled to do so.

    Wade's wife, Celeste, brought warmth and humor to the gathering. 

    "I feel like I'm going to need a heart transplant right now, like my heart is exploding with love right now," she said. "Somebody has given my husband a second chance."

    Wade was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, nine years ago.

    He later suffered a stroke and after 16 months of waiting, he got the call from his doctors that they had a donor heart, telling him to come to Boston right away.

    Since the surgery, Wade has been gaining back his strength. He is now back at work and back to refereeing youth football games.

    Wade thanks the Lopes family for giving him a future and, in return, the Lopes family had just one request: to hear Manny's heart again.

    When they did, they were brought to tears.

    Two families, one heart and so much love on Valentine's Day, which Wade now considers his second birthday.

    Wade is one the lucky few. Nationwide, there are 118,000 people still waiting for an organ transplant. People interested in becoming organ donors can register at donatelife.net.