KELLER (CBSDFW.COM) – Watching video of a stranger in physical therapy slowly bending one finger at a time, Rob Heidemann gasped.
He may not have recognized the man, but he definitely recognized those fingers.
“Look at the thumb,” whispered his wife, Janis. “Aw, yea – that’s definitely his hand,” agreed Heidemann.
The last time this Keller couple held their son’s hand he was lying in a hospital bed, the victim of a car accident.
“We just held his hand, hugged him, kissed him, talked to him,” said Janis Heidemann.
Ian Heidemann, 22, didn’t survive his injuries. But because he was an organ donor, his hand did.
Doctors were able to transplant his entire right hand onto 56-year-old Ronald Thurman –– a corn farmer from Indiana who’d lost his own more than eight years ago in an accident involving a combine.
“To give that gift to someone is just incredible,” said Rob Heidemann.
For the first time Wednesday afternoon, the Heidemanns watched video taken by Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky. of Thurman in therapy.
“It’s amazing,” said Janis Heidemann.
“Just the joy in his eyes at having a hand again; you can see that he’s so happy,” said Rob Heidemann.
While nothing can compensate for the loss of a son, the Heidemanns say they find comfort in knowing he brought so much joy to others, even in death.
“It’s just the pride I feel,” said Janis Heidmann.
“It’s really carried us through,” said Rob Heidemann.
Ian Heidemann, by the way, donated more than just his hand. His organs helped save four lives. His corneas helped two people see again. His kidneys helped a 3-year-old boy live without dialysis and his tissue donation could help up to a hundred others.
Want to become an organ donor? Visit this website for more information about how.