Family of organ donor shares special dinner, lifetime bond with recipients

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The family of a young man who donated his organs shared a meal with the recipients of his gift of life. (WPVI)

Families gathering for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner is as traditional as it gets.

But what's not traditional is the way one Philadelphia family was formed.

"Our 20-year-old son, Ethan, was killed tragically by a drunk driving accident in 2010," said Linda Moyer, mother of organ donor.

Linda and Ron Moyer lost their son, Ethan, six years ago.

But it's because of Ethan's decision to be an organ donor that 72-year-old Ellie Doerr and 6-year-old Josie Crawn get to enjoy this meal.

"I have a picture of him in the kitchen, and every morning I look at it," said Ellie Doerr, organ recipient.

"Thank you," said Josie Crawn, organ recipient.

The dinner was hosted by the Gift of Life Family House in Old City.

Make no doubt about it, this is a family now.

"Just as close to us as blood," said Ron Moyer.

Doerr says she thinks about Ethan and the lung he gave her every day.

"I'm eternally grateful obviously. I'm going to get emotional. Without him, I wouldn't be here," said Doerr.

Josie's dad says he'll never forget when they found out they'd be getting part of Ethan's liver.

"We knew that their family gave up something to have our gain so it was special," said Paul Crawn, Josie's dad.

The Moyer's say they also think about Ethan everyday. Though he's gone, he certainly lives on, allowing Ellie to continue her teaching job and Josie to simply grow up.

"Little Josie is like a granddaughter to me. We were doing the Gift of Life 5k about two years ago, and the last quarter mile she grabs my hand and walks us into the finish line. At that moment I was like, 'Oh my God! This is like having a granddaughter,' " said Ron Moyer.

It's clear the joy the decision to be an organ donor has brought, so the message is if you can, do it.
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