MISSOULA - Life Center Northwest held a ceremony over the weekend to celebrate the legacies of those who have donated organs.
“The average person understands what transplant is but they don’t really feel what transplant is," said Mark Delorme of Kalispell who enjoys skiing, hiking and living an overall active lifestyle.
That lifestyle had to be put on hold in 2016 when he was told he would need a lung transplant to survive.
His life was saved by 18-year-old Garrett Mulholland from Alaska a year later.
Delorme was finally able to meet the parents of his donor after years of recovery, and delays due to COVID-19.
“It was as surreal as I thought it would be," Delorme said. "We’ve known each other now for six years corresponding through email but to actually meet them physically, spend some time with them yesterday was a great experience.”
While meeting Delorme, Garrett’s mother Rebbecca Mulholland could tell he has a connection with their son.
“Garrett lives with him, yeah he lives with him and that makes me so happy because Mark seems like he’s just such a good man and Garrett was a good man and it brings joy to me to see years on what my son was able to do through his gift.”
Through Garrett’s gift, Delorme has been fortunate to see his grandchildren be born and start the Garrett Memorial Scholarship fund which helps put nurses through school.
Rebbecca spoke about what it means to see this in honor of her son.
“I see the impact I’ve been blessed to talk to three different people out of the five that he saved and I know that they’ve got families that love them and it's just amazing to me to see that he was able… I wasn’t going to keep him but all these people got to keep their person and it just does my heart so good that my son did that.”
Delorme has a message of encouragement for anyone who has gone through or is currently going through the transplant process.
“Anybody that’s on a waitlist anybody that has just been transplanted or even people that have been transplanted five, ten, fifteen; twenty years ago. It’s a daily process and never give up because just like anything else in life there are good days and there are bad days.”