ANNANDALE, Va. - Twenty-one people die every day waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, and every ten minutes, a new name is added to a waiting list for a new organ.
In the D.C. area, more than 2,000 people are waiting for a family to make the selfless decision to donate their loved ones’ organs.
But have you ever wondered what happens after they get this gift?
Often these transplants happen and everyone goes on with their lives. But in very, very rare instances, families who have donated their loved ones' organs meet the recipients of those lifesaving gifts. It has only happened two other times this year here in our area.
One of those moments happened Monday as the family of 24-year-old Stacie Farmer met three of the people she saved as an organ donor.
There may be two women in this room, but Kathy Farmer said there are really three. She stood side-by-side with one daughter while she believes the other is looking over them.
“I know she's watching and I felt her before just saying, ‘Mom, I’m so happy. This so cool.’ So I just know she is here,” Farmer said.
Her daughter, Stacie, died five years ago after she was hit by a car while biking in Harpers Ferry where she was a raft guide and camp director.
“We just thought we would bring her home, but then we were told it's not going to happen,” said Stacie’s mother.
Stacie had told her family if anything ever happened to her, she wanted her organs donated.
“It feels like there is a part of her that just lives on,” said Farmer.
Stacie became an organ donor on what would have been her 25th birthday. Seven of her organs went to five people.
Five years later, her family met three of those recipients for the first time.
“Meeting these other people, in a sense, I will feel closer to her,” said Lisa Farmer, Staci’s sister.
First, Kathy and Lisa met Sherri Halstead. She received a kidney and pancreas she had waited two years for. Then she gives Stacie's family a gift they have longed for.
“I wanted them to feel her in me,” said Halstead. “I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to meet them because they have given me life and to thank them so much and to tell them I’m sorry that they had to lose someone very special to them in order for this to happen.”
A woman named Vilma received Stacie's liver, which made her healthy enough to deliver a baby. Her daughter, Saira, is now two years old and old enough to wipe away her Vilma’s tears at the meeting.
The third recipient to meet with the Farmers was Kevin Manzano. He received Stacie’s other kidney when he was 13 years old.
Stacie's family said they are now the ones who are grateful because meeting those whose lives she saved means more as her memory lives on.
“It's the only thing I can hold on to -- the other lives that have come from her,” said her mother.
There were two other recipients of Stacie's lifesaving gifts. One person received both lungs, has since moved to Florida and is doing great.
The recipient of her heart sadly passed away two months ago, unrelated to the transplant.
Stacie's family hopes her gifts save even more lives by inspiring others to become organ donors themselves. You can sign up to do that when you get your driver’s license or by visiting beadonor.org.