A Washington family who attended their teen daughter’s memorial Saturday had a distinct guest that helped them feel her presence. That guest, U.S. Army veteran Daniel Mendoza, received one of 16-year-old Emily Ramm’s kidneys after waiting for more than four years for a transplant, KOMO News reported. Ramm died Aug. 13 after falling from a ladder while stargazing with friends.
“It just makes me feel so good inside to know where she is, know where she’s living,” Tara Vasey, Emily’s aunt, told KOMO News. “I want to hug him, but I’ve got to wait for that.”
Mendoza is still recovering from the surgery, which doctors believe was necessary due to harsh chemical and toxin exposure, KOMO News reported. He had less than 5 percent kidney function before the transplant.
“I wasn’t going to come, but at the last minute this morning I was like, you know what, I’m sure they’d appreciate if I went,” Mendoza told the news station. “It was touching. It kind of grounded me there.”
The family connected with Mendoza after Vasey reached out via text message a day after his surgery. The two have spoken every day since and Mendoza promised Ramm’s family he would honor her life.
“He told me he’d honor her and keep her safe,” Vasey told KOMO News. “He told me, ‘Tara, she’s going to be good with me. I promise you. I will always care for her. I will always be healthy.’”
Ramm donated both kidneys and her liver, and while her family is in touch with Mendoza and the other kidney recipient, they hope to make contact with her liver recipient in the near future.
“I’m just so thankful that I did get the chance, basically a second chance at life, I guess,” Mendoza told KOMO News.