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Heart Transplant Recipient Finds Love with Donor's Sister

Update Date: Feb 18, 2013 11:17 AM EST

One young man's heart allowed his sister to find the person who would unlock hers.

In 2005, Kellen Roberts, from West Seattle, Washington, passed away. According to Komo News, he was an adventurous spirit who had roamed the world and the United States in a red truck. In March 2005, the 22-year-old, who was traveling to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hit his head in a freak accident. The accident caused the young man to hemorrhage and lose circulation to his brain. He died in South Dakota.

A few months earlier, Connor Rabinowitz, 17 years old, was a star baseball catcher recruited by Division-I universities. His baseball career came to a screeching halt one day, when doctors informed him that he had a genetic defect that had enlarged and weakened his heart, the West Seattle Herald reports. Doctors installed a three-pound pump, made out of metal, in his chest to perform the tasks that his heart could not, but they also told him that he needed a new heart.

Connor waited for 96 days until he received the call about Kellen, who was donating his organs. Connor was a match.

"We were so grateful that Kell's organs were able to be donated, and thrilled, as we know Kellen would have been, that he was able to save six lives. It gave us such joy and hope in the middle of our enormous loss," Kellen's mother Nancy said to the West Seattle Herald.

Connor felt so grateful to the Roberts family that he sent a letter inquiring about whether they wanted to meet. Organ donors and recipients are kept anonymous to meet unless both sides agree to it.

The Roberts family happily agreed. The first year, Connor's mother traveled on her own to visit the family. The second year, Connor joined her.

That was the year that Connor met Kellen's sister Erin for the first time. They say that it was essentially love at first sight. They were friends for years, and in 2011 they became a couple. The pair's relationship was long-distance at first; Erin attended college in Seattle and Connor attended college in Minneapolis. After Connor graduated, trained as a cardiac ultrasound technician, he moved to Seattle to be with his girlfriend.

"I thank my son daily for the gifts he gave us when he was here with us in body, and for the continuing gifts he gives us daily," Nancy Roberts said. "One of those tangible gifts is Connor and his unexpected presence in our daily lives. " 

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