Ariz. girl's organ donation saves life of Minn. boy

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- It's a powerful story of heartbreak and hope. A little boy was on the brink of death, and his family was holding onto hope for a miracle. Little did they know, their prayers would be answered by a total stranger 2,000 miles away.

"I've been meaning to write for a long time. I've put it off because, quite frankly, all I do is cry the whole time I am writing. I think about you and your daughter every day."

It took many months, but Jackie Thompson in Minnesota finally worked up the courage to write a letter to the Parker family in Arizona.

"Every day Grant wakes up is a miracle, and it's all because of you," she said, reading the letter aloud.

At only 14 months old, Grant Thompson's liver was failing. He was put on an emergency transplant list.

"I had his funeral planned in my head, and I kept pushing those emotions and those thoughts away because I had to just believe that it was going to be OK," Jackie Thompson said.

Hope was all they had.

Meantime, in Arizona, little Addie Parker was full of life.

"She was very outgoing, very much the life of the party," said Micki Parker, Addie's mother.

Little did her family know, 4-year-old Addie had juvenile diabetes.

"We went from happy, healthy little girl playing on a Thursday night to the very next night she was pretty much in a self-induced coma," Micki Parker said.

For six days, doctors tried to save her life, but Addie was declared brain dead.

"She never got to lose a tooth. She'll never get married," Micki Parker said. "But I am very proud of the life that she lived and the people that she helped."

In the face of sudden loss, the Parkers made the decision to donate Addie's organs. Within hours, her liver was flown to Minnesota where Grant's parents were anxiously waiting.

"This is basically D-Day," Grant's father said. "It's going to work and your son is going to live, or it's not going to work and your son is going to die."

Consumed with feelings of gratitude, the Thompsons wanted Addie's family to know how they felt.

"She saved so many people," Jackie Thompson said. "She even gave her hair. She had the most gorgeous brown, long hair."

After writing letters for several years, the families finally decided to meet. They first met in Minnesota and again recently in Arizona, where they shared an emotional moment after seeing Addie's picture on the side of the Donate Life car at the NASCAR races.

"It's really incredible (having them here)," Micki Parker said. "It's a way to keep Addie's memory alive and to see her thriving and living even though she's not."

Addie is part of them all now, the life that gives two families a connection beyond words.

At the end of that first letter, Jackie Thompson told the Parkers, "Please know that your daughter did not die without purpose, and she very much lives on in this amazing little boy from Minnesota."