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UND Student Gives Gift of Life - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

UND Student Gives Gift of Life

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(KARE TV) LAKEVILLE, Minn. -- They held on to hope for days, but in the end, things didn't turn out the way Matt Heisler's family and friends wanted. The 21-year-old man from Lakeville died after being injured in a Grand Forks house fire Sunday, but the death of the UND student will help nearly 60 people, according to his family.

Surrounded by friends, Heisler's family fought tears as a "Donate Life" flag was raised near the entrance of the Hennepin County Medical Center. The flag is a symbol of the life and generosity of donors like Matt Heisler. Friends wept and comforted each other with hugs.

His sister wore one of her brother's Lakeville North Football sweatshirts.

Matt Heisler's dad, Jared Heisler, said his son decided to give back when he renewed his license to drive. "It's one thing I didn't have to tell him to do. He did this on his own. He is a good boy," Jared said. "I just think that is awesome. You don't think about this until it actually hits your home or family."

Cheryl Heisler, Matt's mom, said hospital officials told the family her son would be helping numerous families. The thought made her smile. "Lots of people's lives will be changed. At least 60 if not more," she said. "I woke up about four or five in the morning. And I started thinking people are being called right now to come to their hospital. They may get a new liver or a new heart and it just made me feel better."

Cheryl and her husband gave kudos to the man who pulled their son from the burning home. "To Ryan Nelson, who risked his life to go into a burning building and save my son, it didn't work out for Matt, but look what that did for these 60 people. If Ryan didn't do that, this wouldn't happen," Jared Heisler said.

Cheryl called Nelson their "hero." "And we got more days with him because (Ryan) did that. If he wouldn't have done that we may have not seen Matt again," she said.

Nelson said he didn't think twice. He said he had one thing on his mind: Get my buddy out.

Nelson, 20, has been friends with Matt since they were children.

Now, the family that held onto hope for days is praying for a successful outcome for those receiving Matt's organs. "I would love to see the body ... that had Matt's heart in them. That would make me feel really good," Jared said with a smile.

Matt's death isn't the first time the family has experienced heartache. The couple lost a daughter when Matt was 3 years old.

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