21-year old Matt Heisler died of a house fire in March earlier this year but about five years before his death; he has made a decision that now saves the lives of others.
Matt signed up to become an organ donor when he was 16-years old. He checked the organ donor box when he renewed his driver's license and because of this, he was able to help Tom Meeks even after his death. Meeks is a Vietnam veteran who was diagnosed with a rare disease known as amyloidosis in 2011.
Amyloidosis is caused by the abnormal protein amyloid building up in various body organs such as the heart, liver and kidney and because the condition has no cure, it often leads to organ failure.
Doctors told Meeks that he won't survive if he won't have a transplant but because of his health condition and age, he had been turned down by five hospitals. The only hospital that placed him on a donor list was Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and after three years of waiting, Meeks finally had his life-saving transplant last month with the hospital giving him Matt's heart.
Because of Matt's decision to become an organ donor, his heart now beats on Meeks' body. It also gave his family a chance to hear his heart beating again eight months after he died.
After the transplant, Matt's parents, Jared and Cheryl, and his younger sister Casey met Meeks. Listening to Meeks' chest using a stethoscope, the family had the chance to listen to the heart of Matt beat again.
"It's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that the heart I grew up with and felt in all of my hugs when I hugged him - that it is still out there somewhere," Casey said. She and her parents had been waiting to hear and feel Matt's heart again after it was transplanted into Meeks.
It isn't also just Meeks that benefited from Matt's generosity. Matt, who was a student at the University of North Dakota, helped 60 people including a 46 and 56 year old women who each received one of Matt's kidneys. His liver also helped saved the life of a 61 year old man.
"He made the decision that if life ever slipped away from him, he would give life to someone else," Matt's father Jared Heisler said.