LONGVIEW (KYTX) - But her son was an organ donor, and today, she met the man who lives because of it.
The last time Lenay Okeke hugged this set of lungs this close was 21 months ago, the last time she saw her son alive.
"Today is the closest I can get to my son. As I listen to him breath, inhale and exhale, I think, 'That's my son's lungs,'" Okeke says.
On November 22, 2012, Lyndon Alexander Bell was walking from his mom's house on Lee Street, when he was hit by a sport utility vehicle.
"This has been the most difficult thing in my entire life. There are no words to describe it. There are no words to describe it," Okeke says.
The day after that wreck, Okeke stood outside Good Shepherd Medical Center, where she says doctors removed organs from Lyndon's all-but-lifeless body.
The organs were sent to patients morbidly waiting for this moment.
Among them was Danny Glossup, a dairy farmer living in Stephenville.
He was battling scarred lungs but had never smoked.
Karen Glossup remembers sitting in a hospital waiting room during her husband's transplant surgery, when a nurse told the family, "'Those were the prettiest set of lungs I've ever seen,' and we thought what a blessing, that he got such a pretty, good set of lungs."
Her husband's recovery was quick.
"Eight weeks, he was doing jumping jacks," Karen Glossup says.
Curiosity led his kids to seek out who died so that Danny could receive the lungs.
Online media reports led them to Okeke, and he connected with her through social media.
Today, they met for the first time, grabbing lunch before returning to the hospital to honor Lyndon and 19 other organ donors on its wall of honor.
Good Shepherd established this wall five years ago as a tribute to the loved ones who have donated to others' lives, and to the 123,000 other Americans still waiting for organ donation.
Danny and Karen picked up family in his native Sulphur Springs, all to come to Longview and meet a woman whose agony led to his breath of life.
"I was willing to do whatever, because I owe my life this family and Lynden, and I can't do enough for this family," Danny Glossup says.
For Okeke, everything today is bittersweet.
"Somebody else does live and does prosper, because this man is setting records, according to his doctors, for his health," she says.
Lynden Bell was 24 at the time of his ddeath. ALongview registered nurse was charged with intoxication manslaughter in the case. Sarah Reeves is expected to go to trial in Gregg County's 188th District Court on Oct. 21. Okeke says she will be there to seek justice.
Longview mother of suspected drunk driving victim meets man who received her son's donated lungs
Mother of suspected drunk driving victim meets man who received her son's donated lungs
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- Oct 21, 2016, 7:28 a.m.
- Oct 21, 2016, 5:22 p.m.