Heart recipient talks with family of donor

null The event was the culmination of a story about how one life was saved when gun violence took another life way too soon. "It's like an honor for us to know that the person who has his heart put so much effort into into acknowledging it," said Ricardo Martinez, whose son was a heart donor.

Martinez says its a good feeling for him and his wife, Anna, to know Brian Troy, the man in whom part of their son still lives. Ricky Martinez Jr. was in the Marine Corps and survived two tours in Iraq before he died. When he returned home to Chicago in 2006, he was killed by a stray bullet fired by a gang member while on his way home from a Cubs game.

Ricky Martinez's heart was donated anonymously to heart disease patient Troy. Ironically, he also is a former Marine who, during the past month, has gotten to know the donor's parents.

"Brian Troy is extended family of ours," Ricardo Martinez said during a news conference Saturday. "I would like him to speak because that's my son right here," he said touching Troy's heart.

"Every day the affection for the heart that beats in me is stronger and stronger, and as long as I'm alive, Ricky will be alive, too," Troy said.

"I'm just very grateful that my son lives on," Anna Martinez, Ricky Jr.'s mother, said.

Saturday's news conference was designed to promote organ donation. Secretary of State Jesse White praised Martinez's family for supporting the young man's wish to be a donor after he was killed.

"When you can give someone a second chance at life like Ricky Martinez, then of course, you fall into the category of being a hero," White said.

Also at the news conference, Martinez's parents and the parents of other victims, gave their support to legislation to stiffen penalties for criminal attacks on veterans.

While this is a great story, the vast majority of organ recipients never know their donor or the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

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