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Ronald J. Rybak – Heart Transplant Recipient & Donor Family Member

The most difficult part of waiting for a heart transplant is knowing that for you to have another chance at life, someone else’s has to end.  My joy at receiving a new heart on June 2nd, 2001 was tempered by the knowledge that the family of my donor, a 23 year old young man killed in a car accident, was grieving over their incalculable loss.  My step-son, Tom, was 22 at that time, and his mother and I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to be in that donor family’s situation.

We found out how it felt exactly four years later, when on June 2nd, 2005, Tom was critically injured in a car accident.  Five days later, we honored his wishes by donating all of his usable organs and tissues.  Our grief is made more bearable by knowing that Tom lives on in others, and we are very proud of his generous choice to be an organ donor.