Two families bonded by one beating heart - WNEM TV 5

Two families bonded by one beating heart

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It's called "the gift of life" and for a local man it's been that and much more.

Thanks to the organs of another man Tim Saylor has lived to reach a major milestone.

Friday he is prepared to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary, but it is made even more special by the company he will share it with.

On the eve of a milestone anniversary celebration two families, strangers only five years ago, are bonded by the beats of one heart.

"She said 'can I feel your heart beat?' and I said 'absolutely.' She went ahead and put her hand on my chest and felt her son's heartbeat," Saylor said.

The heart pumping life into 54-year-old Saylor isn't the same heart his blushing bride Patty stole on their wedding day 25 years ago. That heart belonged to a vibrant 29-year-old TJ Sommers.

"He said mom if I am not here anymore why shouldn't someone else have my organs," said Mary Sommers, TJ's mom.

TJ was killed in a freak accident playing softball five years ago. At the same time Saylor was clinging for life, his heart failing and his lungs inhaling their last breaths. The final blow of a birth defect.

"He had been in the hospital about three weeks and it was three days before Christmas and doctors said 'you aren't going to make it to Christmas,'" said Patty, Saylor's wife.

But he did make it thanks to TJ, a proud organ donor. Saylor would receive a new heart and set of lungs from this guardian angel hundreds of miles away.

"Because of his decision to donate his organs that something like this can happen and be such a joyful time," said Tim Sommers, TJ's dad.

A new family was born the day TJ left this world. His organs filled Saylor with life again. In what is considered to be an incredibly rare meeting of recipients and the donor family an everlasting bond was formed between the two families.

"He is a part of us, he is our family. His parents are not only our donor parents they are our family," Patty said.

As the Saylor's get ready to renew their wedding vows Saturday, celebrating 25 years of marriage with their now much larger family, TJ's parents said he will be watching over and they know he'll be smiling from ear to ear.

"He'd say yes, that's all he'd say, he'd put his thumbs up and say yes. He is a kind and compassionate person. Yeah, that's what he'd say," TJ's parents said.

TJ has given the gift of life to four people from being an organ donor, and  TJ's dad is a minister and he will be the one officiating the vow renewal for Saylor and his wife Patty as they celebrate their silver anniversary tomorrow

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