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WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) – Valentine’s Day is also National Donor Day, and this day pays tribute to families who’ve given the gift of life, the thousands who are waiting for organs and the lucky ones who’ve received transplants.
Talk about lucky, meet Madeline Deveny and Josh Reynolds.
It was a wedding that defied all odds.
“It’s a love story that shouldn’t happen,” said Reynolds. “It’s not supposed to happen.”
But it did. Two strangers with cystic fibrosis, both who needed lung transplants to live.
Against all odds, Deveny and Reynolds exchanged vows on Sept. 20, 2018.
“We are truly meant to be,” said Deveny. “For surely, God would not have sent us through these trials at just the right times. He meant for us to find one another.”
It started in pulmonary rehab.
Reynolds was recovering from his lung transplant, still immune compromised and Deveny hadn’t found a donor yet. Deveny’s lungs were full of bacteria so they couldn’t be in close proximity.
“We would actually stand at opposite ends of his truck in the parking lot after each of us were done working out,” said Deveny.
“It kind of blossomed after that,” said Reynolds. “Without even trying, it just happened.”
And there was finally a match for Deveny. Her transplant was three years ago.
“We wouldn’t have been standing at that alter if it wasn’t for our donors,” said Deveny. “We think about them every single day because we are here, we are breathing, we are living this life.”
Now in Wilmington, celebrating a year-and-a-half of marriage, both with transplanted lungs and beyond grateful.
“We are the ultimate, living breathing version of what organ donation does,” said Deveny. “To have two people who went through the exact same thing and both got the same transplant, the same place and ended up in this love story and married and living life together, it’s just … there’s no words for it.”
Deveny and Reynolds wanted to share their story to encourage more people to become organ donors.
One donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 75 others.