Today, Rick Bounds is a triathlete. But six years ago, Rick was diagnosed with a serious liver disease.
His doctors told him that if he didn’t have an immediate kidney and liver transplant, he would die.
They found a match in Marty Biernack.
Marty’s widow, Dorothy Biernack, sat down with Rick at StoryCorps.
Click here for the transcript.
He had a stroke and, by the time we got to the hospital, they said there's nothing else they can do for him.
So, one of the worst things I ever had to do was open up that door with his mother and our children looking at me for hope. And I had to tell them that there was no hope.
Within minutes of finding out that he was going to pass away, we decided to donate his kidneys and the liver.
So, why was it so important for you to meet me as your donor family?
Rick Bounds (RB): I was struggling with the fact that I was allowed to live, and someone passed. And um, I wanted a picture of the person who had been taken and allowed me to live.
DB: Were you surprised at how young I was when I walked in? Cause a lot of times people expect the widow to be a little old lady walking in.
RB: Yes. It was hard for me because, here I was sitting across from you eating dinner with literally parts of Marty in me, allowing me to be able to do that. And um, I think what set me at ease was your smile. Just like this morning when you got out of the car. You just have a real bright smile, and it just allows people to relax.
And then, three days later, you decided to make the trip to go to the triathlon.
DB: My daughter came with me. And we were waiting for you where?
RB: At the finish line, with a picture of Marty.
DB: A big picture of Marty.
RB: I remember going up and giving you a hug, and some woman took that shot of you and I hugging. And you don't see our face but you see Marty's face, peering out right at the camera.
DB: That picture means a lot to me too, because all you can see is the person that brought us together.
RB: I visualize Marty as my angel.
DB: Yeah, I feel like Marty still has a purpose. To help you live your life, and help you see your grandchildren. And I couldn't ask anybody nicer to be able to live with my husband helping you.
RB: Thank you.