A lung and a prayer: Transplant recipient meets donor’s family

Jill Harris, Tim, Pat and Sharon Beard, (back) Charlie and Rhylan Kleczynski and Shannon Beard (front) hold a photo of Jill's son and Charlie and Rhylan's father Steve Kleczynski who was the organ donor for Pat Beard's lung replacement. (Bulletin photo by Katie Nelson)

A piece of Stephen “Stevie” Kleczynski resides in six people across the country: a heart in New Jersey, a pair of kidneys split between a little boy and a little girl, a liver in an older woman, a lung in a man, and the left lung in Cottage Grove resident Pat Beard’s chest.

After Kleczynski died on his 21st birthday in 2014, he continued to be that person his mother Jill Harris said “would do anything for anyone.”

Only hours after his death, his lung was transported to Minnesota to save Pat’s fading life.

“He had less than two hours to live when they gave him the lung,” his wife Sharon Beard said.

After Pat, a Vietnam Veteran and former state lawmaker, recovered from surgery and returned home, he wrote a letter to the family members of the stranger who had saved his life. Continue reading
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