In February of last year, Peter Brouwer learned he would need a liver transplant after suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). While the father of two from Grimsby, Ontario, was initially hesitant to tell many people because he wanted to keep his life as normal as possible, his wife Melissa ultimately posted about it on Facebook in hopes of finding a donor.
But they didn't need to look far -- it turns out their future donor was sitting right next to them at their son's hockey game.
In an incredible story in People magazine, Peter explained how after his initial living donor fell through, Melissa turned to social media. And as soon as his story made the rounds within the parents of their son's hockey team, Vanessa Smith knew she had to step up.
The mother of six, whose nine-year-old son Ari is on the same team as Peter and Vanessa's son Braedon, was a blood-type match and she immediately volunteered. Just one day later, she had submitted her paperwork to Toronto General Hospital to donate.
While Vanessa wasn't particularly close with the Brouwers prior to the donation, "You always knew there was something very special about her," he told People, "Because we'd go to a hockey or lacrosse tournament and just the way she treated all the kids, treated others, you could tell she was a very, very special person."
Vanessa, who should probably be your new hero today, summed up her decision simply. "Peter was the recipient of my liver because he was the first person I've known that needed a liver," she said.
"I would have donated to anybody in need. That's just who I am as a person."
Peter and Vanessa underwent surgery in January, and both are currently recovering. They are hoping their story helps inspire others to become organ donors.
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