In 2004, 35-year-old Bryan Herrington of Pensacola, Florida, died during a roofing accident. Before that tragic day, though, he had made a very important decision: He had chosen to be an organ donor.
Jeff Granger was a man in need of a kidney and pancreas. His kidneys had started failing, and he was fortunate enough to get what he needed from Herrington’s generosity.
In total, Herrington ended up helping four people with his donations, and it’s something that has changed life for his family.
Within a month of the transplant, Granger started writing to Bryan’s family, including his wife, Terri Herrington. She found that the communication helped them in their grieving process.
“Just hearing from them, and how much their life had changed, was a healing process for me and my boys in and of itself,” she told UFHealth.
The Grangers sent cards to the Herringtons regularly, especially for holidays and special occasions — and after a year, Terri replied with her phone number in case Granger would like to talk.
“I remember sitting down and thinking, ‘Heck, I’ll give her a call,'” Granger recalled. “I didn’t know a thing about her.”
But that soon changed. The Grangers were invited to Herrington events and soon became friends with the family. At one event, the youngest Herrington son, Payton, approached Granger and put his hands on his belly.
“My dad’s in there,” the boy said.
“Sure is,” Granger replied. “And I’ll try to keep him alive as long as I can.”
He kept that promise until 2019, when his kidneys started to fail again as a result of his body turning against them. He had to tell Terri the awful news — but her response shocked Granger so thoroughly that he didn’t think she was serious.
“I’m losing Bryan’s kidney. I’m so sorry,” he told her, to which she replied, “Well, I’ve got one.”
Granger posted his request for a kidney online, and Terri saw the post and reiterated her offer in no uncertain terms.
“I’ll email you a packet if you’re really interested,” he wrote.
But Terri was adamant: “I’m not ‘really interested.’ You’re getting mine.”
It just so happened that she was a match, so the surgery was set for November 2019 and Granger was looking forward to feeling back to himself again.
Unfortunately, as the Grangers and Herringtons arrived at the hospital, Jeff was found to have pneumonia, and the transplant was postponed.
Thankfully, on March 3, the surgery did take place and it was a success.
Apparently, some people were concerned Terri would regret her decision — but she is absolutely certain she will not.
“As we got closer to the surgery date, I had a lot of people coming up to me and asking, ‘What if you need it?’ And I said, ‘Well, what if I don’t?’ If I lived off of what-ifs, I wouldn’t live.”
“Jeff will still have Bryan’s pancreas,” she added. “In a way, we’d be back together again.”
“We aren’t organ donor and transplant recipient. Through this connection, we’ve become family.”
Granger is still in awe of his donor and gets kind of choked up when he talks about how everything fell into place so perfectly.
“We were a perfect match,” he said. “Just like me and Bryan were. And I hope to stay in touch with them the rest of our lives.”
“This girl was an angel. She’s a single parent, and God’s gift of a parent, too. I don’t know how I could thank her or repay her for such a wonderful life-giving gift.”
“It’s kind of a miracle, you know?”
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