Couple paying forward an organ donor's gift

April 5, 2010 8:51:13 AM PDT
A Philadelphia man will soon be celebrating the tenth anniversary of his heart transplant.

Both he and his wife know that he would not be here today if it weren't for the generosity of a stranger.

As interior designers, Renee and Don Freeman have been helping people change their homes for years. Now, they're also hoping to change lives just as Don's life was changed years ago.

10 years ago what they thought was a minor medical problem turned out to be a life-threatening situation. Doctors found Don had an enlarged heart and, without a transplant, he would die. After just a few months of waiting in the hospital, Don got lucky.

"They came in and say congratulations, we have a heart for you! Happy birthday, it's the first day of the rest of your life," Don said.

After surgery, and a lengthy recovery, Don and his wife have since been living life to its fullest and taking nothing for granted. It's all thanks to the generosity of a stranger who choose to be an organ donor.

"The people that donate and the families, those are the stars in this situation," said Don.

So, to give back, they've created the foundation "Donors are Heroes." They teach people about organ donation and they focus on teenagers who are about to get their license.

"The students are more open as all children are, more enthused, more willing to listen and more willing to learn," said Renee.

The Freemans hope sharing their story will inspire teens and more adults to check the box or talk to their family and become a donor.

"You tell me what could be a greater legacy than saving lives, whether rich or poor," said Don. "You tell me what could be greater than that."

As the Freemans continue to celebrate life, and spread their message, they're hosting a fundraising party April 16th to help raise money to support their cause. For more information about the party, go to their website.

RELATED LINK: Donors are Heroes party