NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) - Losing a son is never easy. Losing him at 25 years of age to a violent end...even harder. But Wednesday, one mother had reason to smile, because of her son's life-saving gift to a man she had never met, until that day.
Although Jackie Pische and Ben Adler hadn't met before, they are connected by one heart. The one donated by her son. Jackie's son Josh Richards was shot and killed outside the Luna lounge in Appleton in December.
"Losing Josh was hard," Jackie says, "but seeing Ben today and his family was awesome."
There was never a question that Josh would be an organ donor. At sixteen, he told his mom he wanted to help others.
"He looked at me and said what am I going to do with them, that's the kind of person Josh was. He would have done anything for anybody."
The gift of his heart saved Ben's life.
"I was excited when I woke up and I knew I lived," Ben says.
Doctors told the 47-year-old he was hours away from dying, Ben had already had five heart attacks.
"When they went in and opened me up and put the heart in they found a blood clot and when I woke up that's when I was told," Ben says.
Because of Josh and his family's decision to give the gift of life, six other people were also given a second chance.
"He has a heart recipient, both his lungs...two kidney recipients and two livers so that makes seven," Samantha Taylor of UW Health says.
At Theda Clark Hospital and Clinics, Jackie and Ben encouraged others to make the decision. 122,000 people in this country are waiting for an organ transplant. 2,200 are from Wisconsin. People like Ben and Jackie - waiting for their own happy endings.
The person accused of killing Josh Richards will stand trial for murder in December.