Heart transplant recipient meets donor's family - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Heart transplant recipient meets donor's family

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KENNEWICK, WA.-- Steve Arbogast has never been a stranger to the cardiologist. However, it wasn't until 2006 that he was rushed to the hospital so doctors could put a defibrillator in. But, as Steve and his team of doctors learned, the worst was yet to come. 

"I woke up, and there was a lot more people than should be in the room," Steve told NBC Right Now. "They introduced me to the heart transplant team."

For forty days, Steve stayed in the hospital, waiting for a donor. For the most, part, he remained positive. But, during that time, he had to grapple with the fact that for his life to be saved, somebody's would have to end. It was only after a hospital deacon reached out to Steve that his feelings changed. 

"He said, 'people are dying every day. It's just going to be that hero that's decided to be an organ donor. Your going to receive that gift that he is giving willingly.'"

Steve's hero was David Jorgenson, a 56-year-old Montana father of two, and after eleven years of having Dave's healthy heart, Steve finally got to meet his donor's family. 

This summer, Steve and his wife, Lamees, took the trip out to Montana. Despite some initial nervousness, there was an instant connection between them and Dave's closest relatives. The meeting was full of laughs and tears, especially after Dave's daughters were able to listen to their father's heart beat once again. 

For Steve, his donor has given him both a second chance at life, and a second purpose. He started a heart-transplant support group in the Tri-Cities, and makes sure to encourage organ donation, all with Dave in mind.

"When you're tired and you can't do any more," Steve says, "Well I've gotta do more for Dave."

If you'd like to learn more about becoming an organ donor, you can do that here