Heart of a Tiger: Deceased Auburn student donates organs to Bama Fan

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — An Alabama fan is alive today, thanks to the selfless action of an Auburn student. Jon Wright of Pensacola was on the edge of death from kidney and liver failure. He was on the transplant list and didn’t know if he would make it.

When he was hours away from death, 19-year-old Auburn student, Katherine Lersch, unexpectedly passed away from a brain aneurism. She had decided at the age of 16 that she wanted to be an organ donor. Her liver and kidney were placed inside Jon, and he is thriving.

“How unbelievable that is that a 19-year-old would be that gifted, and have enough responsibility and be that accountable to be an organ donor. I would not expect that out of a 19-year-old,” Wright said.

Wright had an opportunity to meet the Lersch family, including Katherine’s twin sister, Chandler. It was difficult for Chandler to meet Jon, but she said she feels relieved knowing Kat’s death wasn’t in vain.

“Now meeting Jon, I feel better that my sister gave her life up for him,” Chandler Lersch said.

Wright could hardly contain his emotions when he, his wife, Debbie, and his daughter visited with the Lersch family. He feels so grateful to be alive and to be the recipient of Kat’s organs.

“I am grateful, I am grateful. I am going to live my life in his glory, and I am going to make Kat proud,” Wright said.

Kat’s mom, Heather, says Kat made the decision to donate her organs when she got her driver’s license. She wanted to help other people.

“You look at it like a loss, but look at what we have gained. We have gained more family through the Wrights. She is with us. I want people to realize how important it is and how significant it is to be an organ donor,” Heather Lersch said.

The Wright and Lersch families have had a few laughs over the past year. Kat was an avid Auburn Fan, having just completed her Freshman year on the Plains. Wright is a die-hard Alabama fan.

“I am a devout Alabama fan. I have handled it extremely well,” Wright chuckled.

Heather Lersch is also an Alabama fan.

“I think she is laughing about it. I think she is getting a big kick out of it because she is making two steadfast Alabama fans like the Auburn tigers,” Lersch said.

It’s very easy to become an organ donor. You can do it when you renew your driver’s license, or click here and you will find instructions on the Legacy of Hope’s website. Legacy of Hope was formerly the Alabama Organ Center.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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