Heartfelt moment as organ donor's family, heart recipient meet in New York City

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The family of an organ donor and the man who received a new heart had an emotional meeting in Manhattan Monday.

Retired Norwalk police officer Robert Pascarelli was able to thank the family of the man who had saved his life.

In 2016, John Erickson was hit by a car and killed on Long Island.

"The best gift you can give anybody is the gift of life," wife Megan Erickson said.

John Erickson was a 34-year-old construction worker who was also an organ donor.

"I had to take a step back and say to myself, 'Listen if there's nothing we can do with him, imagine another person getting the phone call saying they can live,'" Megan Erickson said.

Pascarelli was that person, and he met the couple's families for the first time at LiveOnNY in Midtown.

He received his new heart two and a half years ago, after seven months of waiting.

"At one point, I told my nurse, 'I'm leaving, I'm done, I can't take it,'" Pascarelli said. "She begged me to stay."

Two weeks later, there was a match. And on Monday, the reunion was an extremely powerful moment for John Erickson's mother, Donna Erickson.

"I can hear my son's heartbeat again," she said. "That's a miracle and a half, and what a hell of a nice guy."

With any transplant surgery, every minute counts. In this case, once a heart is recovered, doctors only have between four and six hours to perform the operation.

"This woman lost a son," Pascarelli said. "She lost her husband, and I gained a family."

John Erickson's liver and kidneys also helped save three others, including a 10-year-old girl.

"I know he's got a good heart," Donna Erickson said.

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