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Hastings man donates organ to stranger across the country

Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 6:22 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Finding a donated organ can mean the difference between life or death for some patients. One Hastings man has gone out of his way to be a living donor and help a complete stranger across the country.

Edward Rice of Butler, Pennsylvania was declining in health after a diagnosis of cirrhosis in the liver. Then Mark Weinman from Hastings popped up in the comment section of a support group with an offer that could change Edward’s life.

People who need a liver portion transplant can sit on the waiting list for months or even years. Edward’s health was declining and he didn’t want to wait and get worse.

“I had no energy, I just didn’t feel like doing anything,” Edward said.

His wife turned to a living donor Facebook group. It is for people who are donors and those looking for organs.

“I couldn’t bring myself to ask somebody, hey will you give me part of your liver. That’s a pretty big step,” Edward said.

That’s where they found Mark. He already began testing at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for another person in need of a portion of liver. He had found them in the support group as well.

“After all of the testing I was approved and all that. Come to find out he already received one from a cadaver,” Mark said.

With all his tests approved he jumped on board to donate to Edward instead. Edward and his wife said they were elated to find someone so quickly.

“That meant a lot to me that I may have a chance to live the life that I am used to living,” Edward said

In just three weeks, Mark flew out to Pennsylvania and the surgery was performed on July 13th. Edward and Mark met the morning of the surgery with their families.

“Not a lot of words were said except them thanking me and I just said you don’t have to thank me. It’s something I felt I had to do,” Mark said.

This isn’t Mark’s first time under the knife. He donated a kidney to a stranger he found on Facebook back in 2016.

“Everybody calls me a hero and [donors] don’t look for the glory and the thank you’s,” Mark said. “We’re just doing it out of the kindness of our heart.”

Since the surgery, Edward has seen his life improve greatly and he credits it to Mark’s generosity.

“That there are actually people out there that would do this. That was really an eye opener you know,” Edward said.

“It showed that there are people out there who are just so good, good at heart,” said Randy Rice, Edward’s wife”

Though hundreds of miles apart, a small piece of liver will connect these men for life.

“Just the whole process makes you think about life,” Mark said. “I just want everyone to think about donating, becoming an organ donor. All it takes is a phone call.”

Edward said he is back to living a normal life. As for Mark, he is fully recovered but won’t be making any more living donations. He is a donor so his organs can save more people when his life comes to an end.

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