Organ donor’s family, recipients come together to celebrate life

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Eau Claire (WQOW) – Sam McBride calls Rich Heath and Nathan Baggett his extended family, but they’re not cousins or siblings.

The title comes from the fact that Rich Heath has Sam’s daughter Cori’s heart, and Nathan Baggett got her liver.

Cori McBride died in 2017 at just 15 years old after a fatal car accident. Not long before the accident, she had chosen to give life to others in need for whenever she did pass away.

“She said, ‘Dad, I want to be an organ donor.’ just out of the blue,” Sam said.

McBride said that it’s fate that Heath and Baggett got to receive Cori’s organs.

Baggett is a doctor with long-term goals to become an organ transplant surgeon himself. Heath shared the same hobbies as Cori did, like hunting, fishing and playing basketball. They both even wore the same number in high school.

“When we found out that we had a lot of the same interests, it’s almost like this was all meant to happen, but it all comes together for an unexplained reason,” Heath said.

The now extended family of Sam, Nathan, Rich and the McBride family all advocate for life-saving contributions like Cori’s.

“I feel pretty proud. Like I said, it’s something I didn’t want to do and didn’t expect to do, but it’s something that I felt needed to be done,” McBride said.

Together the group is able to show that sometimes the hardest decisions have the biggest rewards.

“Everyday of my life I am here thanks to Cori’s gift, the gift of my cousin, and the gift of my third donor, and so without that, I would’ve died two years ago,” Baggett said. “That makes you realize how incredible the impact of transplantation is.”

That celebration of life is all for Cori Rose, a girl known for giving the gift of kindness both in life and death.

Mary Pautsch

Mary Pautsch

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