A Long Island man who received the gift of life—a heart transplant—had the opportunity to meet his donor’s father in Manhattan.
Months ago, Christian Siems, of Greenlawn, was seriously ill. He was told he would die without a new heart.
“It was hard, it was really hard, especially as a mom to watch,” Michelle Martines said of her son’s two-year wait.
It would ultimately be another family’s tragedy that would answer the Siems family’s prayers.
Nicholas Brown, a Marine, was registered as an organ donor before he died from a heroin overdose at 27 years old.
The Marine’s heart would go on to save Christian’s life.
After his recovery, Christian and his family shared an emotional meeting with Nicholas’ father, Patrick Brown.
“It’s good to be able to meet and say thank you,” Christian told Patrick. The two reminisced about Nicholas’ life.
“Nick’s life was unfortunately short but his legacy is going to go on,” his father said.
Christian Siems is now that legacy, and he urges New Yorkers to sign up for organ donation.
Right now, New York has a 29 percent donor enrollment rate—the lowest in the country. By comparison, Pennsylvania’s donor enrollment falls at 46 percent, and New Jersey’s at 31 percent, according to NJ.com. The tri-state area’s rate remains low compared to states like Alaska, where 86 percent of people are enrolled.
Some 10,000 New Yorkers—and 123,000 Americans—are waiting for an organ donation of some kind, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“There are so many people really waiting who will die if they do not get organs,” said Dr. Amy Friedman, an executive at LiveOnNY, the nonprofit where people can register to donate.
And many of those stories won’t have the happy ending that Christian’s did.
Karen Hua contributed to this report.