Almost two years ago, the Autry family of Bozeman, Montana, lost their six-year-old son, but gained the gratitude of six people who received his organs and corneas.
On Friday at Children's Hospital, one of those recipients got to thank the Autrys in person.
A year-and-a-half ago, six-year-old Bryce Autry fell out of a wagon. What would have been a minor injury to most ended up being fatal for him, since Bryce had an undiagnosed malformation that caused his brain to slip down onto his spinal column.
He was the life of a room, said his father, Ian Autry. He'd have you stitches all the time.
Doctors at Children's Hospital, where he was being treated, asked the family if they would donate Bryce's organs.
It wasn't a pause or a wait, said Aria Autry, the boy's mother. It was 'Yeah, we're up for it.' We knew how many lives that could be impacted and helped.
The Autrys were anxious to finally meet one of his recipients.
We were really excited that this day came, said his mom. We were counting down... 'Oh my gosh we're actually going to get to meet her.'
Twenty-one-year-old Emelia Mijangos, from the San Francisco Bay Area, received one of his corneas, after growing up with a degenerative eye condition that kept her from driving and going to college.
It started when I was in middle school, said Mijangos. I couldn't see the board. And so on. I couldn't see, and I was seeing less every time.
After a tearful meeting, Mijangos quickly expressed her gratitude.
Before I knew you guys, I already feel like you guys are my family, she said.
Together, they put the finishing touches on his 'florograph,' a depiction of Bryce that will be part of the Donate Life float in the Rose Parade. And the Autrys took some time to show Mijangos photos of their son, showing her what he looked like, describing who he was.
The Autrys said it was surreal to look at someone and know part of their son was looking back.
Glad you can see now, said Aria Autry to Mijangos. It's worth it.
For more information on becoming an organ donor, go to www.lcnw.org.