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Second chance at life helps a mother's grief

A grieving Kate Grotz spoke with calm and grace Saturday about the death of her only child the day before.

Along with the sadness, there was the realization that her Meaghan got a second chance to live.

Meaghan Grotz was born with cystic fibrosis, which deteriorated to the point where doctors told her she had less than two years to live. That was five years ago, when she was 16.

A year later, as a high school senior, she received a double lung transplant from the teenage victim of a car crash.

For Meaghan, life began anew.

"She was happy," her mom said, "trying to play catch-up for everything she missed."

Despite missing most of her junior and senior years, Meaghan graduated from Grand Island High School in 2005. She moved on to college and was a sophomore this year at Buffalo State College.

"She was doing everything that a 20-, 21-year-old kid would do, hanging out with her friends, partying," her mother said.

Meaghan also did her part for the cause of organ donation, speaking and fundraising for organizations, including Upstate New York Transplant Services. She encouraged others to pledge to donate their organs, reminding them that the foresight of a family in Michigan gave her a second chance at life.

"I pray for the family every day, and I'm thankful," she told The Buffalo News in 2005. "No one wants to think about dying, but I don't understand how somebody could . . . not give up something that has already gone."

Nationally, 17 people die every day for lack of a transplant.

Kate Grotz said her daughter began rejecting her transplant last October, a fact she kept private, and her lung capacity dropped to 30 percent.

Still, her mother said, "she was fine until last weekend. She knew her limitations, and she went about doing things the best she could."

Meaghan was admitted Monday to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She died Friday of complications from double lung pneumonia, just weeks shy of what would have been the fourth anniversary of her transplant.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Meaghan's mother said she wants people to appreciate what it means to donate their organs, what it meant to her daughter.

"It gave her her second chance. She didn't care how long she had, she just wanted a second chance.

"It gave her all the things she wanted to do, and then some."

e-mail: jheaney@buffnews.com

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