Pittsburgh Man Receives Heart Transplant from Monongalia County - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Pittsburgh Man Receives Heart Transplant from Monongalia County Man

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Tommy Cork Tommy Cork
Tom Meshanko Tom Meshanko
PITTSBURGH -

A Monongalia County man's choice to be an organ donor has inspired a Pennsylvania man to seize his second chance at life.

On Tom Meshanko's refrigerator, between his grandkids and kids, sits a photo of Tommy Cork.

"He's my everything, he's my hero. He's the individual that saved my life," Meshanko said.

A volunteer firefighter, Cork loved to help other people, loved his family, and loved his Mustang.

"He was on his way from work," said Debbie Cork, Tommy's mother. "His dad and I had been in Morgantown, and we were on our way home. We knew there had been an accident. His dad got out of the truck and said, it's a Mustang. I said 'Is it Tommy?' And I ran."

Tommy Cork died June 12, 2009.

That fateful night changed many people's lives.

"They said you need a heart transplant and I didn't want one because I was afraid," Meshanko said. "The surgeon told my wife he'd have to take whatever heart becomes available because I would not make it through the night."

That night a perfect match came in from a 20-year-old West Virginia man.

Tommy Cork's heart, now 24 years old, lives inside 72-year-old Meshanko. Meshanko is active, and has competed in the Transplant Games of America.

He calls his transplant a second chance at life. That second chance Meshanko devotes to helping other transplant patients.

"I just talk to them one-on-one and eventually I say, hey I know what your going through because I had a transplant too," he said. "Be positive, don't give up. You may have ups and downs but it will all eventually go up."

Meshanko said that not a day goes by that he doesn't think about Tommy Cork. Besides a picture on the refrigerator, a photo album dedicated to him sits in his living room. Debbie Cork made the album so Meshanko knew that Tommy was a real person.

"My Tommy would be honored to know Tom for what he does to help others because he was all about helping other people," Debbie Cork said.

Tommy Cork was the youngest of Debbie Cork's children. He was her little boy, her Clay-Battelle graduate, her firefighter and railroad worker, and still today she couldn't be prouder.

"I miss him terribly, but he's still out there helping people," Debbie Cork said. "They told me he saved 7 lives, and now two people can see with his beautiful blue eyes."

For more information on becoming a donor, visit the Center for Organ Recovery & Education's web site.