Organ donor family from North Country meets recipient for first time

Local News

Most people would call it a lung transplant, but one man from Boston is calling it the gift of life. On Saturday afternoon, a recipient met his donor’s family from New York’s North Country for the first time.   

Giving will forever describe donor Meghan E. Smith.  

“That’s who she was, the giving kind. She could have nothing, but she would give,” said her mother Jodi Lynn Jeror.  

At 29-years-old, Smith from Saranac Lake became ill and died from a heart attack in 2019. She is survived by her three children. Smith made it clear to them and her loved ones that she would save lives by donating her lungs, liver, and kidneys.  

“I’m alive today because of her. And I’ve seen milestones because of her,” said Smith’s recipient Brian McMasters.  

McMasters was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in the 90s, a disease that makes it difficult to breathe.  He was rushed to Brigham Hospital in Boston in January 2019, the same day Smith was admitted to Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh.  

“I was saying my prayers in the afternoon, and there was a doctor standing next to me and he says, “We’ve got lungs for you,” said McMasters.

Laura Faissette with LiveOnNY says New York State has the third highest need in the country for organ transplants and is among the lowest for donors.

Currently, more than 9,000 men and women in New York are waiting for an organ transplant.   

“She did a lot of great things because she donated five people’s lives because she donated her organs,” Meghan’s Daughter, Kale’a Akaia.”

At just 11 years old, she says she wants be an organ donor like her mother.  

“I’ve seen a granddaughter and grandson born, and I’ve seen two of my son’s get married, which I would not have seen had I not had the gift from Meghan,” said McMasters. 

Faissette says Meghan’s family and Brian McMasters are among the 10 percent of recipients and donors who get to meet. And they say, they plan to keep in touch.  

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