Son's gift of life forms lifelong friendship - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Son's gift of life forms lifelong friendship

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May 19, 2006

Albany-- It's a touching story that saved one man's life and gave some closure to a family dealing with loss. Before 19-year-old Bryan Williams died tragically, he made one wish.

Ruth Tilley just can't wait for a special weekend visitor.

"I'm very anxious. I'm looking forward to this," says Tilley. It's a visit from someone who reminds her of her son, Bryan.

"I think Joe sorta looks like him. They both have big brown eyes," says Tilley.

In a picture from November of 1996, Bryan is wearing his ROTC uniform. It was just one day before a tragic accident. "He was crossing the street and was hit by the car," says Tilley.

Bryan was on his way home from school on November 7th when he was struck at the intersection of Lockett Station and Weymouth. He died just four days later. It was a tough time for the Tilleys.

"You can't lose a child and not have it affect your life," says Tilley. But his parents found a way for Bryan's lifelong wish to be carried out.

"He told me if anything ever happened to him, he wanted his organs donated and so that's what we did," says Tilley. And because of that, part of him came home today.

"It's so good to see you. I know it,"  said Ruth and Joe Stott  as they hugged.

Joe Stott owes his life to someone he never even met. "I could not do anything without Bryan," says Stott.

In 1990, he was diagnosed with cardiomyapathy, a heart disease with no cure. By 1996, he was told he either needed a transplant or a casket but that outlook changed November 11th.

"It was November 11th about 11:30 in the evening when they came and told me that the heart was available for me," says Stott. It was Bryan's heart. Now Joe uses it to compete in transplant games across the world. Each medal is dedicated to Bryan, something that honors his parents as well.

"He is a part of our family and it's good knowing your son's life wasn't a total waste," says Tilley. Bryan's mother says even in his death he found a way to do what he always did.

"He always enjoyed doing things for other people, helping them," says Tilley.

"And the heart is still going fine," says Stott.

A heart that continues to beat and in some way used this road to bring strangers closer together.

The Tilleys and Joe Stott first met in 1998. Since then, they've attended graduations, birthday celebrations and even family reunions. Along with his heart, Bryan also donated his corneas and both kidneys.

Right now, more than 91,000 people remain on donor lists. Joe Stott will speak at a Trends in Transplant meeting Saturday morning at Phoebe which you can attend to learn more about how to give the gift of life.

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