The mother of an organ donor reportedly met the woman who received two of her son’s organs in a chance meeting (video below).
Tyson Schreiber was only 19 when he died in a car accident approximately 10 miles away from his home in Alsea, Oregon, on Feb. 11, 2012. Although his family has a vast support system of relatives, friends and coworkers, they said Tyson will always be missed.
"I don’t think it will ever go away," Julie Schreiber, Tyson’s mother, told The Albany Democrat-Herald in 2013. "There’s a hole. We have a huge hole in our family without him."
"He was my rock, my best friend," Whitney Schreiber, Tyson's sister, said. "The person I looked up to, my hero -- a big part of my life. We did a lot together, and I miss that."
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Prior to his death, the 19-year-old had registered as an organ donor. His kidneys, pancreas, liver, heart and corneas were given to several people.
"He had a big heart," Whitney said, according to KOIN. "He wanted to help everyone he could."
One of the organ recipients was Laura Ericks, a woman who had suffered from illness, harsh medications and diabetes. After receiving Tyson’s pancreas and kidney, Ericks’ health drastically improved. She can now eat without insulation shots, and doctors have stopped her daily dialysis.
Ericks said she thinks about Tyson “every day,” and she reportedly sent a three-page thank you note to his family.
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“The doctors had said I probably wouldn’t live to 40,” Ericks told KOIN in 2014. “I’m going to be 45 [on my next birthday].”
On the first anniversary of Tyson’s death, Julie and Whitney went to Tyson’s grave site. That same day, Ericks and her husband, who live in Albany, Oregon, were on their way to the coast for an early Valentine’s Day trip.
“I said, ‘I cannot drive through this town, not one more time, without finding where he is and paying my respects and thanking him,'” she recalled.
On their way to the site, they saw Julie and Whitney. Julie gave Ericks a big hug and was touched by the gratitude Ericks expressed towards her son.
"It was one of those things that was meant to happen," Ericks said. " […] There’s no other way we would have been there at the same time."
"It was surreal knowing that she’s all healthy now and cared enough to come look him up," Julie said.
Ericks later privately returned to Tyson’s grave and wrote: "My hero. Thank you for the gift of life. Laura."