MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — In February 2014, Mark Williams was told he needed a liver transplant or he would die. “Quite honestly,” he said, “I was running out of time.”
Then on Valentine’s Day, Melissa Cranston-Thorne died following an asthma attack. The 36-year-old was a registered organ donor and her liver was a perfect match for Williams.
“At first you’re excited for a transplant, you’re waiting for it a long time,” Williams told KOIN 6 News. “And then it hit me: Somebody died today and that was the only reason that I’d be going into surgery to get opportunity to live.”
In the Pacific Northwest, there are around 3500 people on the wait list for a donated organ —
Donate Life Northwest
The families of donors don’t always meet recipients like Mark Williams, but he wrote a letter to Melissa’s mother, Cheryl Flanders. Three months after her daughter died, she met Williams.
Now, 2 years later, he’s become a part of their family. He’s bonded with Melissa’s son Ian, who is now 12, and he speaks at donor events with Cheryl.
And at family get-togethers, he craves barbecue chips — just like Melissa did.
“I found as a mom who lost a daughter this brought me comfort and well-being to know this man was walking because my daughter helped him,” she told KOIN 6 News.