Organ donation recipient, family of donor meet after 6 years in Elkhart

Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 11:39 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Alan Homsher and the Dean family are having a heart-to-heart of sorts, meeting for the first time on Saturday.

Homsher, a Crawfordsville man, went from thinking he had bronchitis in 2013 to being told he needed a new heart by the end of the visit.

“And the next day, they’re telling me I need a new heart. So I went from being healthy to needing a new heart in very short order,” Homsher said.

He had to wait several years for that transplant.

Following a tragic car wreck in February 2017, the the parents of 21-year-old Justin Dean of Elkhart decided to donate their son’s organs. Alan received Justin’s heart.

“There’s nothing else we could do to save [Justin’s] life, but I was able to help someone live on.” said Frank Dean, Justin’s father.

Homsher went from years of waiting for a heart to years of hoping he’d get to meet Justin’s family.

“Before I got out of the hospital for post-transplant, I had enough information and a picture of Justin that was provided. And I did an internet search, and in like three-tenths of a second, I knew who they were,” Homsher said. “I’ve watched videos on YouTube of other incidents where donors and recipients have met. And I just thought, ‘I needed it.’ And I didn’t know if they did or not until [Justin’s stepmother] contacted me.”

Alan isn’t the only person whom Justin helped through organ donation.

“It’d be amazing (if) the other donors would come forth and get to meet them as well and hear about their stories also, “ Dean said. “So, that’d be a beautiful thing. Yeah, ‘cause I know he’s helped five other people.”

It was also a special moment for the Indiana Donor Network to see the two families meet firsthand.

“And the fact this is Donate Life Month kind of reinforces that whole thing where donors save lives. Justin saved five lives, and that is an amazing thing. We have living proof today,” said Angie Hartman, of the Indiana Donor Network.

For more information on organ donation, click here