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Two families turn a fatal tragedy into new life

Christopher Brazzel
Brazzel Family
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Brazzel Family
Christopher Brazzel

Dr. Jon Hochstein is beginning his medical residency after graduating from Harvard Medical School.

This achievement was made possible because of one family’s decision to donate the gift of life, and a team of experts who saved his life at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital 23 years ago.

Back then, Jon Hochstein, a 4-year-old boy was admitted to Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital ICU, with heart failure and in need of a heart transplant.

His father David Hochstein remembers what they were hoping for as a family.

“And that was that when tragedy does strike, and tragedy happens all the time, but when tragedy does strike, that the family would have the courage to say yes, to transport plantation,” said David.

Not far from their room, a different family was grieving their 8-year-old son, Christopher who was fatally injured in an accident at his school’s crosswalk in Wendover, Utah.

At first, Christopher's grieving mother was hesitant about organ donation until the reality of need was put in her face says April Hough, sister of the late Christopher Brazell.

“She walked past an ICU bed and she recalls seeing two little feet sticking out of the bottom of the blankets. She recalls asking what was wrong and being told that the little boy laying there was waiting on a heart,” says Hough.

After that incident, Christopher’s family decided to donate his heart to Jon and to donate his liver and kidneys to other kids in need of a transplant.

After a long time of searching for his donor family, Jon was able to meet with Elizabeth and April Christopher's mother and sister and described the experience like no other.

“It was surreal, there's no blueprint. And I think the most impactful moment was just getting to meet and again, give them an opportunity to listen to Christopher's heart that is still chugging along within me,” said Jon.

Christopher's sister, April, encourages and reminds people of the importance of organ donation comparing it to a form of healing for a grieving family.

“Christopher was eight. He was following all the rules. His life was taken anyway. Knowing John, and the gratitude he has and has lived with every day has made it to where the healing has made us feel like Christopher didn't die in vain,” says April.

Jon’s family is grateful to Christian’s family and the intermountain Child care hospital for giving their son a second chance at life.

He says it is an honor for him to do so well with Christopher's heart and to be able to give back to children and their families through medicine and health care.