BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) – A terrible accident brought two families together as the death of a 21-year old saved a Georgia man’s life.
We’ve followed Kevin Hartley’s story since his death in April. He passed away after succumbing to powerful fumes while stripping a bathtub.
The 21-year-old was an organ donor, and Mark Gregory of Georgia needed new lungs. The families of both met in Brentwood last weekend.
Wendy Hartley, Kevin’s mother, and Mark’s embrace was months in the making. Kevin’s lungs were hard at work in Mark’s chest.
The two met at a Holiday Inn. Mark received the transplant after living with cystic fibrosis for years.
“Lived a pretty normal life, even with the complications from that,” he explained. “About two years ago, I got pretty sick.”
The sickness grew worse, and Mark soon needed a lung transplant. That surgery took place in May, not long after Kevin’s death.
“I was first amazed I could breathe, but one of my first thoughts was I wanted to meet my donor’s family,” he told News 2. “Thank them in person for what they did for me.”
“This is the best Christmas gift I could’ve gotten,” said Wendy Hartley. “Meeting Mark and his family.”
Mark even brought Wendy a stethoscope, allowing her to listen to her son’s lungs in action.
For Wendy, this is the first of hopefully many more meetings.
“I hope to be able to hear my son’s heart beat again as well,” she added.
Wendy has had received a letter from her son’s heart recipient and hopes to meet them in the near future.