At the beginning of the year, Channel 3 shared a story about a local man fighting for his life.
He was in desperate need of a liver transplant and was hoping by sharing his story, there was someone out there who could save his life.
Turns out, there was.
"I never thought I was going to be in this place,” said Mark Stiber, of Westbrook.
In January, he was desperate, and so was his wife of 27 years, Nina Stiber.
Doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital told them Mark was running out of time and needed to find a living donor quickly.
With the clock ticking, they reached out to Channel 3 to share their story and ask for help.
The pair knew finding a match for Mark would be no easy feat.
Sixty of their friends and family had already tried over the years with no luck.
But after Mark’s story aired on Channel 3, the phone lines at Yale-New Haven Hospital were ringing off the hook. It was an overwhelming response.
More than 100 of loyal Channel 3 viewers volunteered to see if they could give Mark Stiber the gift of life.
"Thank you so much and I love you, I love you for just trying,” Mark said.
"It gives us hope. It definitely gives us hope that this is going to be okay,” Nina Stiber added.
They didn't know it then, but one of the selfless strangers who had picked up the phone was Heather Harris, who had seen the story on the Channel 3 Facebook page.
"My initial thought was someone just needs to step up and I'm someone so that was my thought process on it,” Heather Harris said.
The mom of four was ready for the challenge, and further testing revealed she was indeed a match.
It was the news Mark had been hoping for, but wasn't sure would ever happen.
"I couldn't believe it when I got the phone call,” Mark Stiber said.
May 4 was the big day.
Heather Harris went in for surgery with her loving and supportive husband Jamie by her side.
"I knew in my heart everything was going to be ok. God couldn't take Heather from me. I'd be nothing without her,” Jamie said.
Heather would give Mark a piece of her liver.
Mark would have his entire liver removed, and in about eight weeks, both livers would regenerate. One liver becomes two.
A miraculous feat by the human body, only made possible by one super human.
"I feel good. I like knowing that I have touched a life in the way I have,” Harris said.
Three days after surgery, Mark and Heather met for the first time.
They immediately connected, along with their spouses, the most unique of circumstances, creating the most special and everlasting bond in body and mind.
Mark and Nina Stiber say they don't know how to thank Heather for her generosity and selflessness. They're blown away by the priceless gift she gave, which was the gift of life.
“She doesn't want me to thank her anymore but I am so grateful. There are no words, there's no way to put it into words how thankful I am about it,” Mark Stiber said.
"There is no way to express my gratitude and how thankful I am. There are just no words. It's all emotion. To thank someone for that, it's beyond big,” Nina Stiber said.
A scar is a visible reminder of Mark's long and difficult journey, as well as the sacrifice made by Heather Harris; two perfect strangers now linked forever in the most perfect way.
Two couples who now describe their relationship as way beyond friendship -- they're family.
"We are going to have this connection and I think we're all grateful for it me just as much as them,” Heather said.
Mark and Heather also want to thank the doctors and staff at Yale-New Haven Hospital for their incredible expertise and endless compassion.
Channel 3 also wants to thank the viewers. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
In fact, Channel 3 also learned that many of the donors who were not a match for Mark have stayed on the donor list, willing to help others who are also in need.
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