PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One man’s generosity saved another’s life. They were strangers, until Wednesday, when the two met for the first time at UPMC Montefiore Hospital.
Justin Reed volunteered to give up part of his liver. And what makes this even more extraordinary, is that this is the second time he’s donated an organ to save someone’s life.
The first was his dad. Two years ago, Justin donated one of his kidneys when his father was in renal failure.
“I think the thing that moved us the most is a lot of stories weren’t being told,” said Reed. “The wait list is… a lot of people are dying while waiting.”
So after his father’s recovery, he decided to help someone else, a stranger.
“I’ve lived a very fulfilled life, so for me it was important to give somebody else a chance to tell their story,” said Reed.
The recipient turned out to be Kevin Shores, whose liver had been affected by an autoimmune disease.
“This is nothing short of a miracle that the timing worked out,” said Shores. “Justin’s donation coincided perfectly with that, and I can’t possibly express how thankful I am.”
Their surgeries were simultaneous in November at UPMC Montefiore.
On Wednesday, the two men, accompanied by their wives, met each other for the first time.
“You must be Justin,” asked Shores.
“How about a hug,” said Reed.
So a handshake quickly turned into a hug, as the two men embraced. There were some tears in the room as donor and recipient shared their stories, now that they share a special bond.
“I’m 42-years-old and because of you, I may have another 42 years,” said Shores. “There’s no way to convey thanks for that.”
“You don’t have to say thank you,” said Reed. “This is thanks enough.”
The transplant surgeon says donating twice is very unusual.
“To me, what can be a better demonstration of the good that mankind is capable of when you see something like that,” said Dr. Abhi Humar.
“He’s given me a life,” said Shores of Reed.
While people come from around the country for transplants at UPMC, the irony here is that the two men learned they’re actually neighbors. They both live on Mount Washington.