Man on a mission to find donor’s family, decades after lifesaving transplant

Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (NewsNation) — More than 20 years after a transplant that saved his life, a Florida man is on a mission to say thank you to his donor’s family.

Joey Parrish knows firsthand how critical these procedures can be. He wants to get the word out, in the hopes of finally knowing the story behind his own transplant.

Parrish now works as a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant.

21 years ago, Parrish got a second chance at life with a liver transplant. He was never able to connect with the donor family who chose to help him. He wrote them a letter through the donor service but never heard back.

Parrish understands that everyone grieves differently and the family may be hesitant to come forward.

“Obviously it was a tragedy in their family, but they were amazing enough to help others through that tragedy,” Parrish said to NewsNation affiliate NEWS10 in Albany, New York.

He was given very limited information about his donor. All Parrish knows is that the liver came from a four-year-old child from New York state and that his transplant took place on August 21, 1999.

“These last 21 years have been amazing, and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “I just want to thank them for letting me have this time with my family, friends, and my girlfriend, and everyone else I’ve met along the way.”

Besides meeting the girl of his dreams, Parrish has run half marathons, traveled the world, and started his career in anesthesia. He sometimes even works on organ transplant operations.

Parrish is grateful to be healthy, active, and thriving. Not everyone who has had an organ transplant can have the experiences he has had, because some face challenges of being immunocompromised.

Even if he never hears from them, he hopes the family will see his story on the news or social media, and know they have changed his life forever.

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