It was a match made in the operating rooms of the University of Illinois Hospital – a man donated part of his liver to a stranger, and they ended up at the altar after he quite literally saved her life.
Chris Dempsey and Heather Krueger’s love story is a modern fairy tale, one of kindness and for those who believe in it, a touch of fate. Krueger, 27, was diagnosed with stage 4 liver disease a few years ago. Doctors told her she needed a transplant right away, because she only had a few months left to live, Cosmopolitan reports.
I was told I had less than a 50 percent chance of living more than two months,
she says. “By that time I could really feel my body shutting down.”
Dempsey, a code enforcement officer for Frankfort, was in the break room when he overheard a colleague talking about his cousin who needed a liver donor, and would die soon without one. Dempsey was struck by a sudden thought. “I spent four years in the Marine Corps and learned there never to run away from anything. So I just said to myself, ‘Hey, if I can help, I’m going to help,’” he relates.
The doctors tested if Dempsey was compatible, and when the results turned out to be good, he met with Krueger to discuss the whole process over lunch. Dempsey suggested a fundraiser for her, as well. Before that, the two had never even heard of each other.
“When I heard about her situation, I just put myself in that situation, thinking if this was one of my family members or me, I would want somebody to help me out,” Dempsey explained. “Some people didn’t understand why I would do this for a stranger, but as time went on, people changed their tune and thought it was a cool thing I was doing.”
The transplant involved removing about half of the donor’s liver and putting it in the recipient. It went smoothly, and both began recovering. Krueger says Dempsey had told her, “’You owe me absolutely nothing for this. We can go our separate ways if that’s what you want.’”
They eventually admitted that they had feelings for each other that transcended having two halves of the same organ. Dempsey proposed in December 2015, and the couple got married earlier this month.