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The Ontario woman hopes to meet her son's recipient more than a year after his death



BRAMPTON, Ont. – A Brampton, Ont. the woman hopes to meet her son's recipient when she searches for closure more than a year after his death due to accidental overdose of fentanyl.

Sharon Vandrish said her 23-year-old son, Keerin, John Reid, was stripped of his life in September 2017 after being declared dead.

She and her son's father decided to donate the four organs of her son, including his heart, through the Trillium Gift of Life Network, the service of donating and transplanting organs and tissues in Ontario.

"I just knew that (Keerin) I would like something good to get out of this tragedy," said Vandrish.

Six months after the organ donation, Vandrish wrote a letter to the recipient of the heart and they have corresponded since then. She also wrote to the other three organ recipients, but they did not answer.

"It's not like I'm trying to stick to a piece of my son, I know he's gone," she said, "for me it would just close the loop."

Letters sent between donors and recipient families are checked by Trillium to ensure that they follow a number of guidelines, such as the lack of identifying information, according to the agency's website. However, you can give approximate age and sex. While the agency allows donor and recipient families to communicate anonymously, it does not connect them personally.

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Representatives from Trillium did not respond immediately to the request for comment.

Vandrish said that she feels sad at Christmas because of her son's loss and because she does not know the identity of a man who has a heart right now. Then she wrote a post on Reddit to see if she could get in touch with the man.

"I was just frustrated with this process," said Vandrish. "I just wanted to reach out and see."

Keerin John Reid is seen in the hand photo provided by his mother Sharon Vandrish.

Sharon Vandrish / The Canadian Press

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But Vandrish said she was still unlucky and, for now, is managing her son's death by going to a support group. He also has his son's thumbprint on the bracelet and said he plans to get a tattoo to remember his "gift of life." She said the recipient of the heart had sent her an electrocardiogram in his heart about a week ago, so she could get it tattooed along with her son's heartbeat since he was still alive.

"These are just small things that keep him close and just keep those memories alive," said Vandrish.

She said that she also learned to answer the recipient of the heart, that he is a middle-aged two-year-old father whose brother died about seven years ago for a heart disease similar to the one diagnosed with the recipient.

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She said her son was a staunch footballer and gardener who eventually took over her yard to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Vandrish said she received a letter from the recipient who said he had recently taken care of gardening soon after the heart transplant.


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