Friday, 30 December 2016

Mom Spends Holidays with Late Son’s Heart Recipient: ‘We’re in this Life Together Now’

Courtesy Janece Risty
A Georgia mom is finding comfort by spending the holidays with the teen who received her son’s heart after he unexpectedly died two years ago.

Janece Risty’s 16-year-old son Tyler Liebl died suddenly from a massive brain hemorrhage in 2014, and the grieving mother made the decision to donate his organs to those in need. One of those recipients was 19-year-old Lance Frye.

“Since we connected this year, we’ve become like family,” Risty, a 41-year-old athletic trainer from Newnan, Georgia, tells PEOPLE. “God made Tyler’s heart for both Tyler and Lance and so we’re in this life together now!”

“I’m forever grateful to Tyler and his mom,” Frye, 19, tells PEOPLE. “I wouldn’t be here without him and now I’ve met Janece and we’ve formed such a special bond.”

Courtesy Janece Risty
Tyler was an “extremely healthy” straight-A student at Northgate High School when he died, his mom says. The teen loved snowboarding, had a passion for ballroom dancing and was active in his local youth group. But most of all, Risty remembers her son as “the most kind, selfless person.”

“He was one of those kids stood up for others being bullied,” she says. “He’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

But in July 2014, Tyler began complaining of a headache. And soon, he began seizing.

“He was so incredibly healthy, this really came out of the blue,” says Risty. “He had suffered a massive brain bleed, and they did surgeries to remove part of his skull to allow the brain to swell, but he quickly became brain dead.”

On July 30, 2014 Tyler died.
Risty says she discussed the option of being an organ donor with Tyler previously, when he first got his driver’s learning permit.

“And when he was dying, I knew it’s what he would have wanted,” she says. “I know he would want to help people.”

“He helped over 23 people in total. His kidney went to a 23-year-old engineering student, his liver to a 64-year-old man in Georgia and a young girl wrote me to say she was able to play basketball because of his tissue,” says Risty. “And, of course, his heart went to Lance.”