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4 Who Got Organs to Meet Donor's Family

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Arnold Potter is struggling to find the right words: How do you thank the family of a teenager whose death gave you new life?

Potter, who received a donated kidney, and three others who were recipients of organs from 19-year-old Jered Dillard, were expected to meet the teen's parents Saturday.

The five families wanted to honor Jered by scheduling their first meeting at the baseball field where the teen was his high school's starting pitcher. Saturday was scheduled to be opening day for Durant High's baseball season.

Dillard family friend David Taylor said he had no trouble getting the four recipients' families to make the trip to Durant, a town of about 12,000 not far from the Texas state line.

``I had some of them say they would walk here,'' he said.

Potter, a 17-year-old from Dallas, says the kidney has given him a brighter future, a chance to keep playing basketball _ maybe even a shot at going to law school.

Rigoberto Rangel of Oak Cliff, Texas, has Jered's other kidney, a gift that allows him to spend time with his grandson and work with his son delivering supplies to Mexican restaurants.

Jered's heart went to Amarillo, Texas, mechanic Tom Tyler, allowing him to be around for the birth of his great-grandchild, and to keep working to support his family.

The teen's liver went to John Reyes, also of Amarillo, who wants so badly to say something meaningful to the Dillard family that he's asked his sister, a professor, to compose the speech.

Taylor said he wanted Saturday's event to honor the teenager and draw attention to organ donation.

``They range in age from 17 to 67,'' said Taylor, whose son graduated with Jered. ``One is an African-American, two are Hispanic and one is a white man. It's almost scripted.''

Joe Dillard says he never doubted what his son would want. Jered checked the organ donor box when they picked up his driver's license three years before.

``I knew what the good Lord wanted me to do,'' he said. ``It's never easy to lose someone, but to do a positive thing to save four other lives does help a lot in dealing with it.''

Jered died Sept. 18, three days after he dove into shallow water and broke his neck at nearby Lake Texoma. He had been flown to a hospital in Sherman, Texas, after the accident _ and even laughed and joked before he slipped into a coma.

``I could tell he knew that he was in the good Lord's hands,'' his father said. ``He was strong throughout and he just told me not to cry.''

Mary Bauchert, a family services specialist for Southwest Transplant Alliance in Dallas, had the job of asking Jered's parents about organ donation.

He was brain dead, she said. She spoke to them about two hours, giving it time to sink in.

``Seeing his chest rise and fall just made it so hard for them to make organ donation take place,'' said Bauchert. ``It didn't look like anything was wrong with him. He looked like he was asleep.''

She called Jered's father later to tell him who received his son's kidneys, heart and liver.

``That's when he finally broke down,'' she said. ``It was almost like peace had come over him. It was a finality.''

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