Doctors advised Nelson man Peter Blackmore to give up his insurance broker job due to his worsening heart condition at the turn of the century. He was given only months to live eight years ago and has been on the waitlist for a heart transplant for years.
Then, Julie Lynn suffered a brain aneurysm. She was on life support before her family decided to switch off her life support and donate her still healthy heart to a stranger.
Blackmore is that stranger. He has a picture of her hanging on his wall, and he thanks her every day for saving his life, in the way that none of the multiple heart surgeries he had in the past ever could.
"I was a cot case. I wouldn't have had much longer as it was, I got to the stage where I was wishing I was dead," Blackmore told reporters.
And although it is prohibited, Lynn’s family and Blackmore made contact eight years after the fact. David, Julie’s brother, flew in to Nelson to visit Blackmore recently, with both of them excited to see each other.
"It is just amazing, what is going to happen meeting a person who has your sister's heart inside him," David noted.
Because there is no donor register in New Zealand, individuals indicate in their driver’s license whether they want to donate their organs or not. But Julie did not have one, so hospital staff asked her family if they would consider it.
"It was pretty hard for us but we had no control over what had happened, so to be able to help was just amazing," David explained.
Her lungs, kidneys, and liver were also donated.
The experience has made big organ donation advocates of the two men, who now consider each other family.
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