CHICAGO (WLS) --A young Chicago police officer's life was cut tragically short when he was run over while riding his motorcycle. But in the year since he died, Jonathan Ho has actually saved at least six lives.
The pain of losing a 35-year-old husband and father is still acute for Ho's wife.
"It's hard, hard. He won't see them graduate, he won't walk his daughter down the aisle. There's so much he's missing," said Chris Ho.
Jonathan made a career change when he decided to become a Chicago cop. His wife Chris, son Brycen and daughter Taylor were all proud the day he was sworn in. He loved his family, his work, his Jeep and his motorcycle.
But on a late summer day in 2015, Jonathan was riding his motorcycle home from work when an unlicensed, uninsured driver in an SUV turned left at the intersection at West 95th Street and South Vincennes Avenue and ran right over him.
"He was always giving, always helped people," Chris said.
The couple had talked about being organ donors, and that's what happened. Jonathan's liver went to George Carr, a 57-year-old computer security specialist; his right kidney went to Marison Ribera, a 41-year-old woman from Mexico; his left kidney to 63-year-old Sufia Sekh from India; one cornea went to Susanna Erd, 86, who was grateful to see her grandchildren again; the other cornea to research supported by Eversight Illinois, the organization that coordinates transplants; and his heart to a young African-American man in a southern state.
A year after all the surgeries, the families met for the first time in private. Afterward they gathered as Jonathan's children handed out wristbands that had been part of a fundraiser for their family.
At Gift of Hope, the organization that matches donors and recipients, Chris listened to Sufia and Marisol tell their stories. Sufia had endured more than three years of dialysis three times a week.
"Now I am very good. No more dialysis," Sufia said.
Through an interpreter, Marisol explained her fear that she would die and leave behind her two daughters, and what she's grateful for.
"The opportunity to live, opportunity to leave dialysis, opportunity to be with my daughters, opportunity to work," Marisol said.
George Carr lived and struggled with liver disease for 22 years. He marvels that he can walk up stairs now, something he couldn't do a year ago.
"I would not be here if this hadn't happened. I don't believe there are words in the English language to express how I feel. The reality is I'm alive and I wouldn't be if it weren't for their tragedy," George said.
Jonathan's mother lost her only son, and was grateful to meet the organ recipients.
"It's a big comfort, big consolation. I miss him a lot but he lives in them. It gives me comfort," Jocelyn Ho said.
"It helps the grieving process, especially for the kids. Helps them and me. Part of him is living on in other people. Other people have their lives because of him," Chris agreed.
Officer Jonathan Ho had, after all, pledged to serve and protect.
George Carr said he has learned every organ recipient wants to know how to give back; for him, telling people about organ donation is the first step.
Gift of Hope is an organization that helps coordinate, organize and facilitate organ donations. Visit giftofhope.org for more information.
Eversight Illinois is a local non-profit organization working to restore sight and prevent blindness through organ donation, transplantation and research. Visit eversightvision.org/illinois for more information.