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The gift of life: Recipient meets donor family

Not only is today Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Donor Day. Action News Now Jafet Serrato met with one woman who waited for four years to get a new liver.

Posted: Feb 14, 2020 4:48 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2020 4:59 PM

CHICO, Calif. – Not only is today Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Donor Day.

Action News Now Jafet Serrato met with one woman who waited for four years to get a new liver.

At first, they were strangers, but now, they feel like family.

A donor-recipient met the donor’s dad and boyfriend for the first time on Friday.

“I was happy it finally happened. I was relieved when I saw them so I could hug them,” Jennifer Cummesky said.

Chico resident, Jennifer Cummesky was diagnosed with liver disease in 1998. 

“When it happened, it happened so fast,” Cummesky said.

When Jennifer met her friend Erin Gormley in Chico, it was a perfect match. The two knew each other through community organizations in Chico. They were friends for over four years.

Gormely was known as a lover of singing, writing poetry and taking pictures.

But in April of 2019, Erin Gormley died unexpectedly, just days before Jacob Hughes planned to propose.

“She was an amazing person. It was so surreal when it happened,” Cummesky said.

While wiping tears, Cummesky said Gormely’s death opened the door for her to receive her liver.

“I’m 10 months post-surgery, so now that time has passed it’s great to meet Joe [donor father] and Jacob [boyfriend],” Cummesky said.

Thanks to Gormley, Jennifer gained two new friends. The three communicated over the phone but had not met in person.

“I know that she couldn’t be any prouder, knowing Jennifer was doing as well as she is,” Joe Gormley said.

As they reflect on the good times with Erin Gormley, one thing is for sure.

“Something good finally came out of it and that’s something you know she would’ve wanted, which was to be able to donate,” Hughes said.

Members from Donor Network West said nearly 100 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Butte County. Anyone can register as an organ or tissue donor through the DMV or the Donor Networks website.

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