Organ donor allows man to take new steps in life - WNEM TV 5

Organ donor allows man to take new steps in life

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Matt Cross lives for the evening walks he takes with his dad.

With each step he pays homage to six months ago when his life was changed forever by a complete stranger.

"It was really hard for my parents to watch me go through this,” Cross said.

From birth the 31-year-old suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. He was tied to an oxygen tank and his lungs functioned at only 14 percent.

"We had gone through most of his life really expecting him to not live very long,” said Jim Cross, Matt’s father.

But Matt never gave up. He chose to get on the organ transplant list and after a two-year and two-month wait, the call came on January 29.

A donor had just died and he had to rush to an Ann Arbor hospital.

"In the middle of the night, they lung transplanted me, double lung transplant, four-hour surgery,” Cross said.

A short time after the surgery, his new lungs began doing what the oxygen machine had done for years.

He remembers his first deep breath.

"It felt amazing, it felt unbelievable. I basically just said, thank you Lord Jesus, you know, I was just so blessed, and I still am today,” Cross said.

Cross said the scar on his chest is a daily reminder of the pain suffered by the family he doesn't know.

"I feel really heartbroken for the family, you know, it's hard,” he said.

One day, Matt and his family hope to meet them.

"To know and see the lungs that were in their loved one, are now helping to keep Matt alive, that's an incredible thing to think about,” Cross said.

Each step Cross takes reminds others that out of tragedy, there can be hope.

"It's a second chance at life is what it is, it's a remarkable feeling,” Cross said.

There are nearly 3,500 people in Michigan on the organ waiting list and 55 percent of adults in the state are registered donors.

For more information on how you can become an organ donor, click here

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