Two Families Connected Through Organ Donation

By CBS News

Published 04/23 2014 07:03PM

Updated 04/23 2014 07:05PM

CBSNews -- A celebration of life binds united two local families. The two families were brought together by the gift of an organ donation. And at the Celebration of Life event at Joplin's Freeman Hospital, brought them together, once again.

"If God told you...I have a precious little boy for you, but you can only have him for 7 years...would you take him?" Phyllis Sanders says.
These words were told to her son, who was the father of 7 year old Collin Sanders.
Collin passed away in 2002, But his legacy still lives Jacob Smirl, of Girard, KS.

"I used to have this donate life dog chain that I would wear to basketball games, and I felt like it was my good luck charm." Jacob Smirl says.

Due to injuries sustained in a car accident, Collin's family made the decision to take him off life support and donate his organs.

At just 20 months, Jacob was diagnosed with a liver disease, requiring a transplant.

Collin was a match and his donated liver made the journey from Colorado, to Kansas where it was given to Jacob.

"We can't say thank you enough to them. We can say thank you everyday to them, but we can't bring Collin back, and in order to honor his life and honor him, and other people go "look what Collin did for Jacob" and when their time comes or for a family member they could be honored and proud." Alice Smirl, Jacob's mother explains.

At the celebration of life banquet, donor families and recipients honor one another for the gifts that nobody can replace.

"You can be an organ donor with your heart, your lung, your kidneys, your liver, your pancreas, skin, tissue, eye, bone...there are so many gifts that one person can provide." Roxanna Estes, a Freeman Health System Registered Nurse explains.

Now at 11 years old, Jacob is happy and healthy. He enjoys playing basketball, video games, and golfing.
And his family says none of that would be possible without Collin's gift.

Sanders says while Collin's passing wasn't easy, she's thankful she has a new grandson through Jacob.

"I'm just blessed to be able to know who got part of him, so that I can be a part of his life now too." Sanders says.

Collin's parents and siblings still live in Colorado but his extended family lives in Carl Junction, Missouri.
Jacob and his family continue to keep in touch with them.

If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, click this link for more information.
Or visit the Midwest Transplant Network website for more information.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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