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Lung Donation Recipient Meets Donor Family

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WACO (CBSDFW.COM) - No one should ever have to bury their child, but one Waco family can take comfort in the fact that they fulfilled his last wishes. And at least one North Texas man is so thankful they did. Back in 2011, things looked bleaked for Benbrook resident Richard Patton. He struggled with interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that made his lungs like leather. Says Patton, “Twice I just passed out and died. One time I was in a coma for 20 days.” When Patton was put on a waiting list for a transplant, he didn’t think he’d live through the weekend. The career Air Force Veteran was given a number. He was ninty-six on a national waiting list.

While Patton was in a hospital bed, waiting for a miracle, another family was in a hospital room dealing with a tragedy. Seventeen-year-old Nathan Romo’s family says he was a high school football star when he was murdered in a park in Waco. He had signed up to be an organ donor. As his grandmother Leigh Ann Roma remembers, “What Nathan’s last wish was if he couldn’t live that his organs could go to somebody else so it could help and for them to be able to see their children and grandchild grow up.” Nathan Romo’s choice helped six people get a second chance including Patton.

Today Patton and his wife met Romo’s family for the first time. Tomorrow, it will be three years since Nathan Romo died, three years since Patricia Romo lost her child. “I am happy,” says Patricia Romo, “and grateful to meet them because I feel like I still have a part of Nathan but then I am also sadddened because my son’s life was taken. But at least he was able to help others.”

Nathan Romo was Patricia’s only child, that is until 8 months ago, when Isiah was born. Nathan now has a brother he will never meet. The baby has brought new joy to the family and strengthened their conviction that their son’s sacrifice was not in vain. There is also comfort knowing that her son’s two killers are behind bars serving lengthy sentences.

As for Patton, today he received another gift from the Romo family– a framed picture of Nathan. It’s something Patton will cherish as a remind of the final gift that Nathan gave. “Every day is special,” says Patton. “I can’t have a bad day from now on. “

Patton received his transplant at UT Southwestern. Click here for more information about organ donation.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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