When Mark Girard Jr., passed away December 30, 2014, he was a registered organ and tissue donor. This 27-year-old hero saved three lives — plus two additional lives as part of a history-setting re-transplant.
The first time, Mark Jr.’s heart went to a 72-year-old man in San Diego who had been waiting two years for a transplant. Within two days after his surgery, Roger Knott was up and walking. He wrote an incredible letter of thanks to Mark Girard, Sr. Tragically Roger was to have the heart for only 30 days when he died suddenly from an unrelated cause. He also had requested that his organs be donated – a decision his wife Carol supported passionately. She didn’t want the precious gift of life they’d received to be lost.
So surgeons at UC San Diego Health accomplished the seeming impossible: Mark Jr’s heart was moved to a second recipient – Jon Marsh, 44 – an unprecedented month after the first transplant.
According to UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) a heart re-transplant has occurred only twice before in the United States. One time two days post transplant and the second time after 16 days. Never a record-setting 30 days.
The second recipient of Mark Jr’s heart is going strong six months later. And the story of Mark’s historical re-transplant is being shared at a national convention by Lifesharing, the federally-designated organ and tissue recovery organization serving this region.
Thanks to coordination by Lifesharing, Mark Girard, Sr. recently had the opportunity to meet both families touched by his son’s gift of life: Jon – the second heart recipient, his wife and son; and Carol –the first recipient’s widow, who was beaming broadly.
It was a very special day. Many thanks to UCSD for videotaping the meeting with the families’ permission. Watch ‘One Heart Goes to Two People’ here.
Jon was so thankful and appreciative to both his donors: Mark Jr & Roger Knott. He said the very first thing he noticed after the surgery was how “strong” the heart beat was.
And as Mark’s dad said with pride, “The beat goes on.”
Please consider being a donor by signing up at the link below in Mark Girard Jr’s name.