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Organ Donor’s Family Listens to His Heartbeat in Vietnam Veteran After Lifesaving Transplant

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The death of a 21-year-old student from Minnesota was a tragedy for his family and friends, but as an organ donor, the young man gave new life to others, including a Vietnam veteran who needed a new heart to live.

Case Heisler listens to her brother's heartbeat inside the man whose life was saved because of the transplant. (Credit: CNN)

Casey Heisler listens to her brother's heartbeat inside the man whose life was saved because of a heart transplant. (Credit: CNN)

Matthew Heisler died in March after a house fire, according to CNN affiliate KARE.

At the age of 16, he had signed up to become an organ donor when he got his driver's license, Heisler's father told the television station.

"When you get your license, you check that box and you think it's just a small thing," Jared Heisler said.

But it was far from a small thing.

The young man's generosity has helped 60 people, including Tom Meeks, a Vietnam Veteran and grandfather of four who had been diagnosed with a rare heart disease three years ago. Doctors told Meeks he needed a heart transplant in order to survive, the television station reported Tuesday.

Matthew Heisler, an organ donor, helped 60 people after his death in March 2014. (Credit: CNN)

Matthew Heisler, an organ donor, helped 60 people after his death in March 2014. (Credit: CNN)

Eight months after Heisler's death, his parents and younger sister, Casey, listened to their loved one's heart beating inside of Meeks' chest when they met up with the organ recipient for the first time.

One by one, the family members took turns embracing Meeks during the emotional meeting.

"The heart that I grew up with and ... felt in all of my hugs when I hugged him -- it's still out there somewhere," said Casey Heisler, who started crying when she put the stethoscope to Meeks' chest and heard the beating heart.

Matthew's father said he was excited about how many people his son saved.

"I'm proud of Matt. Really proud of Matt," Jared Heisler said. 

The families have connected through Facebook and planned to meet up again in March.

CNN contributed to this report.