By Taylor Hemness - email
Thousands of people across the country are waiting for organ transplants. And in many cases, they get those transplants from donors who have died. That was the case today at a bittersweet meeting in Jacksonville, as one family got to meet the man who's alive because their loved one is not.
Guillermo Bertone got sick earlier this year. Very sick. Before he was even sure what was wrong, he was in the hospital, in need of a transplant.
"Finally, when you're too sick, that you need the transplant like a thirsty man needs a glass of water, you are ready for a transplant," Bertone said.
Doctors told Guillermo that Hepatitis B was destroying his liver. He spent two months in the hospital, before getting the good news.
"They told me that you are first, on the top of the list, everyday."
The liver transplant came from 22-year-old Justin McCullough, who died in an ATV accident in June. Three months later, tears flowed as Guillermo met Justin's family, and learned about him.
"He saw a picture of Justin's deer that he shot," said Justin's wife, Amber McCullough.
"It was nice to show him how Justin was, and who he was. Justin was just a very loving person, and would do anything for anybody. And he would have wanted to save somebody's life if he could."
All of Justin's family was there, to meet Guillermo, and share stories with him. Amber says that she's still dealing with Justin's loss, but this meeting made it a little easier.
"Happy to know that Justin could help somebody live," Amber said.
"It's a great feeling knowing that my husband saved a life."
Now Guillermo heads back to his home in Irving, TX, with a memory of what he says is about much more than just flesh and blood.
"Not only about the organ donation...about the life. Because the life doesn't have colors, or races, or languages."
Guillermo isn't the only person alive today because of Justin. His heart and both kidneys have saved three other Texans.
If you'd like to know more about organ donation, click on the links below: