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Fort Worth Organ Donor Makes Medical History

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Adventurous 22-year-old Ian Heidemann made the most of life, until a car accident last week.  “It was awful. No mom wants to go through that,” said his mother,  Janis Heidemann.

At the hospital, his parents learned their son had also wanted to make the most of death, as an organ donor.

“It just put us at peace,” said Rob Heidemann, his father.

Doctor at JPS in Fort Worth were able to recover seven of Ian’s organs, both of his eyes, and – most impressively – his entire right hand.

Hand transplants are extremely rare, enough so that a Kentucky hospital filmed the 15 hour surgery. Only seventeen have happened in the United States, and Heidemann’s hand donation is only the second to have come from Texas.

The local non-profit group Life Gift coordinated the transplant.

Doctors at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky attached Ian’s hand to 56-year-old Ronald Thurman, a husband and father who lost his own hand in a farming accident 9 years ago.

His wife, who got the news February 14th, called it, the best Valentine’s Day present she could ever get.

“He’ll have the important things of lifting the hand and making a grasp,” explained lead surgeon Dr. Joseph Kutz.

Back in Texas, the Heidmanns are grateful too.

“A farmer?  That’s incredible. He’ll be able to shake someone’s hand you know,” said Rob Heidemann.

In all, their son’s donations are expected to save 6 lives, give two people sight, and help up to a hundred others who may receive his tissue.

“We prayed for a miracle, and we realized a miracle wasn’t for us. But, it was for all these other families who received his gifts,” said Janis Heidemann.

CLICK HERE to register as an organ donor in Texas.

CLICK HERE to learn about hand transplant surgery.

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