Two organ donor recipients in Wylie found out they had connections in life after receiving the gift of life.
48-year-old Gynovel Henry and 16-year-old Nate Hawkins met for the first time Tuesday afternoon at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. They are different ages and different racial backgrounds, but they consider themselves family.
"We're related," asked Henry. "I guess, yeah," replied Hawkins. "Like physically related now. Same donor. Same cells," Henry said with a smile.
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Hawkins had end stage renal disease. Henry had a failing heart. Both received life-saving organ donations from 23-year-old Killian Kass, when he died unexpectedly. Kass was a friend of Hawkins' family.
"I mean, the way it unfolded was kinda sad," said Hawkins. "His family wanted to turn his death into something great, something beneficial to others, and save people's lives."
Hawkins got a kidney. Henry got a a heart. Through that gift of life, the two realized they already had connections in life. Both are from Wylie, Texas. They live about three-miles apart. That's not all. Henry, a former football coach, used to see Hawkin's step-dad at football games.
"We are all connected," Henry said. "We just make each other different on the outside."
"We have not typically had recipients meet each other," said Dr. Elizabeth Brown, a pediatric nephrologist at Children's Heath and UT Soutwestern. Brown is Hawkin's doctor.
"To see them get a kidney and suddenly blossom is just incredible," Dr. Brown said. "I think if people knew what they could give to someone else in that moment of tragedy, it might make a big difference."
There are more than 113,000 people waiting for organ donations in the United States. 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant. "A donor can make an enormous difference to probably 10 or 15 people," Dr. Brown explained.