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They Shared the Same Name and the Same Donor

February 05, 2019 10:49 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- A Rochester man who represented Mayo Clinic on the Donate Life Rose Parade float has passed away.

Two years ago, Steve Shank had a lung transplant and was set to be evaluated for a kidney transplant this past January. Unfortunately, Steve became sick with Influenza and passed away February 4 surrounded by family. 

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Steve is survived by his wife Caren and two children.

ABC 6 News Anchor, Rachel Wick, sat down with a man who was closer to Steve than many because he not only shared the same name but also an organ from the same donor. 

Two and a half years ago, Byron resident Steve Wiese underwent a heart transplant

Transplant recipient Steve Wiese said, "You're thinking about, actually you have to die to get another heart put in."

A thought many of us can't imagine. But for two people, separated by one city, it was the thought they needed to embrace in order to live.

Wiese said, "The chief surgeon was actually the chief surgeon for both of us and was in charge of my heart transplant and Steve Shank's lung transplant."

Steve Shank and Steve Wiese shared the same donor, and for the next two and a half years the two shared lasting memories.

 "You run into this person that is sharing the same path that you're on and to know that this is a different situation with lungs than the heart, but to be attacked by an influenza virus shows you how vulnerable life can be," said Wiese.

Steve Shank's story touched so many lives and inspired many to register as a donor.

"It's gratifying that your life or parts of your body can help somebody live their life longer," said Wiese.

 His life was taken too soon, but his love for his family and love for his friends will live on forever.
    
 "He was a joyous friend, he was an uplifter, always willing to talk and share the path he'd been on," said Wiese. "We called each other brothers. I was heart Steve and he was lung Steve. It's tough to miss him."

To learn more about becoming a donor, click here.

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