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Lifesaving gift: Northeast Ohio man lives because of young woman's selfless choice

Roman Dann got a lifesaving gift from an 18-year-old girl. It took him a long time to reach out to her family, but he's grateful he did.

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — The memories are bittersweet, but as Lynne Daus and Roman Dann gaze at a shadowbox at Lifebanc in Warrensville Heights, they are re-living them, as a remembrance of the delicate, seven-year journey they've walked together.

Inside the box are mementos honoring the life of Lynne's daughter, Jordan.

"Those are her swimming goggles," Lynne pointed out to Roman. "And then her crystals.

"It's beautiful," Lynne added. "She did a good thing."

"Sometimes when you look at it, it doesn't seem that long ago," Roman said to Lynne.

Roman is the recipient of Jordan's liver. Her selfless choice to become an organ donor saved his life.

Lynne talks about her daughter with her whole heart. She loves her, and every single part.

"She was just a bright child," Lynne said. "She enjoyed swimming at an early age. She loves singing. She was in the choir in high school.

"She just basically loved life and loved her friends and her family."

Jordan had a family that desperately wanted to help her beat her demons.

"Jordan began using substances when she was a teen," Lynne remembered. "Quite young. ... Maybe 13."

She fought so hard to free herself.

Credit: Lynne Daus

"She was sober up until just after her 18th birthday, when she did relapse," Lynne shared. "I discovered her about 9 o'clock that night."

Too precious for this earth, a young hero she emerged. It was bittersweet.

"You begin praying for your child. 'Please don't leave me,' Lynne said. "Then you're praying for people like Roman. 'Please let her be able to donate her organs. There are people waiting.'"

"I was diagnosed with liver disease years ago and I finally reached the point to where I needed a transplant," Roman stated. "Then I got the call."

It was a liver. 

"A strong liver!" Roman exclaimed.

And it was Jordan's, but, the reality of her short life was tough for Roman to take.

"It wasn't something that I would just let go," Roman said.

Eventually, it inspired him to reach out.

"I remember writing the letter," he recalled. "My wife had read it several times."

A year and a half after lifesaving surgery, Jordan brought Roman and Lynne together at a walk for Lifebanc.

"I can't put one feeling on it," Roman said. "When I [saw] her and we hugged, it was like joy, sadness, all those things."

It was, indeed, bittersweet.

"As a mom, I can't say it enough of how grateful I am for how good he's taking care of her," Lynne said.

But Lynne and Roman also take care of each other. 

"I know where Jordan is, and I'm at peace with that," Lynne said while gazing at Roman's side. "And it makes me happy to see you happy."

Every year on Jordan's birthday, they honor her life. 

"Roman let's off the luminaries to heaven," Lynne said. "Paper balloons, set up in the sky."

For because of Jordan, Roman's life goes on.

"She made a mark on my life," Roman said. "I don't want her to ever think or the family to think that she died without cause. I'm here and you're living on, and thank you."

In addition to her liver, Jordan donated her heart, pancreas and right kidney. That means she saved four lives.

Lynne is now a dedicated Lifebanc volunteer. She's proud of it as Lifebanc marks its 35th year. 

Do you want to learn more about organ donation or how to become a donor? Click HERE.