Victim of gun violence lives on through donated organs

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He was killed in gun violence in the summer of 2016. Despite that tragedy, 20-year-old Mario Cousins gave the gift of life to six strangers. (WLS)

He was killed in gun violence in the summer of 2016. Despite that tragedy, 20-year-old Mario Cousins gave the gift of life to six strangers.

Emma O'Neal's son's heart beats in the chest of Pam Morris. The two shared an emotional hug Sunday morning at the Apostolic Faith Church. Mario Cousins became a statistic last July when he was shot in the head while sitting on a porch in East Garfield Park. But O'Neal and Mario Cousins, Sr., say they knew their son would want to help others, which is why they decided to donate his organs.

Cousins' organs including his heart, liver, kidneys and lungs went to five different recipients, likely saving each of the recipient's lives. Sunday's service was a rare chance for those recipients to meet the donor's family and say thank you.

"Every race, every socio-economic background, coming together and celebrating life. Celebrating this 20-year-old kid who brought us all together. It's a miracle," said Kevin Cmunt with Gift of Hope.

Gospel recording artist Pam Morris was diagnosed with congestive heart failure two years ago in February. Mario's heart was apparently a perfect match and doctors have given Morris a clean bill of health.

"It gives us life and he still lives, because he lives in us," said heart recipient Pam Morris.
Recipients of organ donations rarely get the opportunity to communicate directly with the families of organ donors. In fact, sometimes that communication is through anonymous letters.

But in this case it helped turn what was a tragic murder into a life-saving miracle.

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