As Army veteran Matthew Whalen was wheeled down the halls of Plaza Fort Worth Medical Center in Texas in his final moments on Monday, current and former service members stood at attention in an emotional tribute.
His wife, fellow veteran Hannah Whalen, said her final and tearful “I love you.” But Staff Sergeant Whalen’s heroism continued into the moments past his death as his organs were donated—to two other veterans, reports Fox4KC.
“It’s almost as if it were meant to be that the two donor recipients happened to be veterans,” friend Sean Hatton’s posted on Facebook. Hatton’s cell phone video of the tribute has been viewed more than 8.5 million times as of this writing.
He notes that “there is no SOP or protocol for this type of ceremony, but with the help of Matt’s wife Hannah, all of his family, the nursing staff, and an Honor Guard we were able to show our love and appreciation in the best way we could.” The 35-year-old suffered a massive stroke on Saturday, reports CBS Local; he was diagnosed with a hemorrhage in his brain and it was determined he wouldn’t recover.
The decision was made to take him off life support when it became clear that in his death he could save two others. “That’s what Matt deserved,” Hannah said of the touching ceremony.
“He was a four-time combat veteran. He was an exceptionally loving dad. … That ceremony that they did, he deserved that recognition.” Whalen is survived by his wife and three young children, Logan, Mattix, and Sadie.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Hannah with the medical bills and other expenses. It surpassed the $50,000 goal in just one day.
(This woman triggered a chain reaction when she donated her kidney to a stranger.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: In Final Heroic Act, Man Donates Organs to Fellow Vets
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