Two strangers fall in love after liver transplant

(WRIC/ABC) — Heather Krueger and Chris Dempsey are a match made in…well, the doctor’s office.

The couple’s unique love story began when Krueger was faced with a life or death medical emergency. In March 2014, Krueger was diagnosed with stage 4 liver disease. Not long after, her condition worsened and her doctor advised her to start looking for a living donor for a transplant.

“I was told I had less than a 50 percent chance of living more than two months. It was traumatic,” Krueger told ABC News.

That’s when Dempsey, a former Marine who now works for the Village of Frankfort in Illinois, overheard his coworker (who turned out to be Krueger’s cousin) discussing the medial dilemma.

He said he didn’t hesitate to get involved.

“When I heard about it, I just thought, ‘I would want someone to help me,'” Dempsey said.

He underwent several tests to determine if he was a match without ever meeting Krueger. Sure enough, he was.

“He called me and said the tests came out great, let’s do this, I’m a match, I’m your donor,” said Krueger. “I couldn’t believe it.”

The two underwent grueling surgeries in March that took over eight hours. Doctors removed 55 percent of Dempsey’s liver. Recovery took about two months for both Krueger and Dempsey. During the process, they realized they were falling in love with each other.

“If wasn’t for this person, I wouldn’t have made it to Christmas,” Krueger said. “[Dempsey] was a selfless and brave person who was perfectly healthy and didn’t know me before this.”

Chris Dempsey recovering in the hospital. (Photo courtesy Chris Dempsey and Heather Krueger via ABC News)
Chris Dempsey recovering in the hospital. (Photo courtesy Chris Dempsey and Heather Krueger via ABC News)

Now, several months after Krueger’s life-saving surgery, the pair is putting their medical ordeal behind them and focusing on their future.

It was a difficult road to recovery, but when asked if he would do it all over again, Dempsey said “in a heartbeat.”

Last month Dempsey made another life changing decision and proposed after a romantic carriage ride in Chicago.

When asked about her double fortune, Krueger said, “You never know what will happen to change someone’s life. I never would have thought this a year ago.”

The couple plans to wed in October. They hope to include the doctors and other medical staff who helped them through the ordeal in their cousin. Krueger’s cousin, who “introduced” the couple, will serve as a groomsman.

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