When tragedy struck a Philadelphia family in 2009, no one imagined how it would connect them to a family they had never met in Virginia. It came down to one decision for a grieving mother -- Let her loss be someone else’s gain, and donate her son’s organs.
Lonnie Anderson was 18-years-old in 2009. He was preparing for the Army Reserves and Nursing School when he was killed by a bullet meant for someone else in his Philadelphia neighborhood. He wasn’t registered as an organ donor. But his mother, Sharon, relied on her Christian faith to guide her to the decision that his organs would help others.
"I figured somebody else could use it to save somebody else’s' life,” she told FOX 29.
Through The Gift of Life Donor Program -- The families who were blessed by that decision wrote thank you letters to Lonnie’s family.
“Lonnie’s spirit lives on. We get to see it, we get to hear it through whoever is carrying that spirit,” said Aunt Carolyn Terry.
One lucky recipient was Brian Stover, who received Lonnie’s lungs. His daughter Marlee was 11 at the time, and wanted to meet the family who saved her father’s life.
It took seven years, but the family finally travelled to Virginia to surprise Marlee at her recent graduation. They also met Brian, and were able to feel Lonnie’s lungs breathe again.
Then just 3 months after their visit they received the news that Brian’s lungs were failing because of complications with his anti-rejection medicine.
Brian is moving up the donor list and is confident of another miracle. Because this time ---he has two families he isn’t ready to say goodbye to.
“We're always gonna be family,” said Sharon.
Watch the video to see how this family has grown.