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What Saved Two Strangers (Part I.)


We received a deeply personal story that will transport you to the heart of gratitude and empathy. The next five Thank You Thursdays will be dedicated to sharing Mel and Carol’s story – it unfolds now:

(And, if you’re not already, consider becoming an organ donor.)

For 24 years my world revolved around my only child, my daughter, Jill. Her father and I had divorced, and it was just the two of us.

Jill was such a warm and giving person, and the career she’d chosen—teaching elementary school children—seemed just right for her. I was so proud her first day of school last fall, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of her.

Now it was September again, a year later. I sat at my kitchen table, trying to start a letter.

Instead, I kept looking at that snapshot of my daughter, with her big smile that could light up a room.

But that light had gone out Memorial Day weekend, when Jill was killed in a car accident. Ever since, my world had seemed dimmed...darker and smaller and lonelier. Not that my friends from church and from the bank where I worked weren’t supportive—they were wonderful—but I needed a comfort they couldn’t give.

What I’d clung to these past months was that some good had come out of Jill’s death. Her other organs had been badly damaged, but her liver had gone to a 58-year-old woman here in Colorado. That was all I knew and I ached to know more.

Enough time had passed that I could contact the recipient through Donor Alliance, the group that coordinated the transplant. I’d been thinking about this letter for months, but how do you sum up 24 years in a few paragraphs?

Finally I picked up my pen. “I am writing to wish you well with your liver transplant, and to acquaint you with the donor, my daughter, Jill. Jill chose to be an organ donor when she got her license. That is truly the kind of person she was.”

I told her a little more about Jill and finished with, “I hope you will be interested in corresponding with me.” Then I put the letter in an envelope, along with Jill’s photo tucked inside a smaller envelope, said a prayer, and headed out to the mailbox…

Stick with us,

Kristin & Lindsay


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Photography by Erica Garlieb Photography
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