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Liver transplant recipient meets daughter of woman who saved his life

Two years ago, a man from New Hampshire waited for a lifesaving liver transplant after being diagnosed with cancer.

He got it from a 79-year-old Greeneville, Tennessee woman who suddenly passed away.

He's traveled from New Hampshire to meet the daughter of the woman who saved his life.

Cheryl Smith said her mom Carole always thought she could help people.

"She just always doing things for people. She always remembered peoples birthday, anniversary," Smith said.

She died suddenly from a severe brain stem bleed, two weeks shy of her 80th birthday.

While the family mourned Dave Belisle received a lifesaving donation, Carole's liver. It was a perfect match.

"The greatest hero I never knew is the organ donor who saved my life," Belisle said.

Dave wrote a letter to Cheryl hoping they could meet.

"I just knocked on the door walked in and gave her a big hug," he said.

"It's just been kind of a connection between the two of us. We kind of sorta feel like we've known each other for years," Smith said.

Dave said his life is back to normal, going to the gym, snowmobiling and working.

"She'd be ecstatic," Smith said. "Part of her is still here," Belisle said.

While Cheryl misses her mom...

"I love her. And I talk to her all the time anyway so she knows," she said. "I was there right before she actually went, she knew I was there."

Kknowing someone is alive because of her selfless act means everything.

"If her liver could've been made out of gold, he's got it," Smith said.

They plan on staying in touch. Cheryl's been invited to New Hampshire and Dave invited back here.

Organ and tissue donation facts from Donate Life:

• One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people.

• Every 10 minutes in the U.S., someone is added to the waiting list for an organ.

• Nationally, more than 119,000 people are on the waiting list; 22 people die daily waiting.

• One tissue donor can impact the lives of 50 or more people.

• Annually, 1 million people in the U.S. benefit from life-saving and life-improving tissue transplants.

In Tennessee

o Nearly 3,000 people are waiting for organs in Tennessee.

o At the end of 2015, there were 2 million registered donors in Tennessee. This represents just 38% of eligible Tennesseans, despite the fact that 95% say they support organ and tissue donation.

How to Register to Become an Organ and Tissue Donor in Tennessee

o In-person: At the Tennessee Department of Safety

o All Tennesseans who are at least 18 years old can register as donors when applying for, renewing or updating a state driver’s license or ID.

• Online: DonateLifeTN.org

o Tennesseans can visit www.donatelifetn.org to register as organ and tissue donors and specify which organs and tissues they would like to donate.

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