A Christmas gift that saved a Calcutta man's life - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

A Christmas gift that saved a Calcutta man's life

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CALCUTTA, Ohio -

We often talk about Christmas miracles this time of year. One man in Calcutta is a believer.

Three years ago, Bill Cornell was in the hospital waiting for a lung transplant he wasn't sure would ever come.

"I was on 25 liters of oxygen, which is a lot and I didn't think I was going to make it. I didn't think I was going to survive," said Cornell.

 At the same time, Wellsville's Charles Riffle was going through the worst time of his life. His wife Cheryl had a brain aneurysm and was on life support. She was also an organ donor; no surprise if you knew her.

"You could go to our house at four o'clock in the morning and if you needed her to help you she'd get out of bed and go help you," said Riffle.

There was a slight connection: Bill's daughter-in-law's brother was married to Chuck and Cheryl's daughter, but in reality they barely knew each other. Still, when it came time to donate her organs Bill's name immediately came to mind.

"She was married into the family so he was part of our family and there was no question about it; he had to come first," said Riffle.

"They asked the question, 'Can we designate who her loved one's organ can go to," and the guy said 'Yeah you can'," said Cornell.

Doctors warned them not to get their hopes up. The odds of a match were roughly the same as hitting the lottery.

But when the results came back on Christmas Day, it was a perfect match. Three years later, Bill and Chuck are close friends all because of Cheryl's final gift.

"I think about it daily. I literally thank God every day for Cheryl and Chuck and their family for making that decision at such a hard time of their life. I can't be more grateful," said Cornell.

So this Christmas and every Christmas, Bill will celebrate the greatest gift he's ever received: the gift of life.

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