Football rivals united by organ donation

(WAFB) - In May of 2015, Jonathan and Holley Perry welcomed twins, John Clarke and Ella, but in November, John Clarke was diagnosed with a brain bleed after a brief illness. "We weren't expecting that at all," said Jonathan.

At the tender age of 6-months-old, John Clarke's parents were faced with a decision that would allow their little boy to leave a legacy that will last well beyond a lifetime. "That's when the doctor said, 'Look, at this point, if he lives, he's going to be in a wheelchair, have 20 percent of his vision.' At that point, we knew we didn't want to put him through that," said Jonathan.

The Perrys knew they wanted their son to be a donor. "Holley was very adamant that she wanted a heart. They told us that 6-month-old babies don't need hearts. They said we definitely want you to be a donor, but don't get your expectations too high," Jonathan recalls.

Little did the Perrys know, just as they sat by their son's bed, waiting for a miracle, the Boswells in Alabama were looking for a match hundreds of miles away. Tucker and Amanda Boswell say their son, Davis, suffered from a virus that settled in his heart. "This caused the left side of his heart to quit functioning. The doctors told us the only thing that would save his life was a heart transplant," said Davis' mother, Amanda.

That's when these two football-loving families collide. John Clarke died on November 30, 2015, and Davis received his heart just four days later. "I can't explain it. It's incredible that something you've been waiting for five months. Life and death are about to happen," said Tucker.

"He's my hero, at 6-months-old. He did more than most people do in a lifetime. I couldn't be prouder," said Jonathan.

Davis, an Auburn football fan by default, is now 2-years-old and growing. Amanda says during a time of "unimaginable grief," the Perry family gave them hope. "We have a family who had every right to grieve in that moment but instead, they thought of others."

These two families, who wouldn't have normally crossed paths, met for the first time last April and since then, have been inseparable. The families even started an Auburn/LSU tailgate tradition. "The first time we meet, we know that we were family, and that emotion and love and support is already there, right off the bat."

Jonathan says they immediately had a strong bond. "It's crazy, it still brings tears to my eyes because Holley and I talk about Davis because he came straight to us and reached right out to us and hugged us."

The Perrys say their son will forever be their role model, saving lives. "He's a much bigger hero for what he's done now than playing football."

John Clarke is uniting two families as one. "They got us for life," said Jonathan.

"You cannot put into words. I say all the time I wish people could feel what's in our hearts because 'thank you' just doesn't do it justice," said Amanda.

For more information about organ donation, click here.

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