In June 2018, 41-year-old Cletus Schnieders passed away after choking on his dinner. However, the events that occurred in the hours after his death provided an unforgettable opportunity for another individual.
Schnieders was a father-of-three from Cincinnati, husband to 30-year-old Carrie. She was chatting with Cletus when the incident occurred. After wondering why Schnieders wasn’t answering her questions, she went to him to check out what was going on. And suddenly it became clear that food was stuck in his throat.
Before long, Schnieders collapsed onto the floor. In a panic, Carrie called for medical help and attempted to keep him breathing until it arrived. He was taken to the nearest hospital, where he remained for two days.
Sadly, doctors couldn’t do anything to save him – and he was declared brain dead two days later. It turned out that Schnieders was a tissue and organ donor, so the decision was made to let him go, in the hope that his body parts could save others.
Work immediately began to see if Schnieders’ organs could be donated to people in need. Within hours, a potential recipient of his liver had been identified – a local man named John Mock.
Mock, a father of four children who suffers from Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, was asked if he could make it into the surgery within an hour. At 3:00 a.m., just hours after Cletus died, the work began to give Mock a life-saving liver transplant.
In the first place, Mock had only registered his need for a new liver a few hours before. So it was an amazing stroke of fortune for him. Even more luckily, out of 156 people waiting for a liver, Mock turned out to be the only match.
When hospital staff took Schnieders’ body for surgery, a whole bunch of people made an honor guard for him. Lines of his friends, family and kids whom he used to coach basketball formed up to give him a send-off.
Consequently, the 12-hour surgery was a complete success.. All things considered, the end of Schnieders’ life had seen new life brought to Mock. Indeed, Mock credited the surgery for keeping him alive. And he was quick to get in touch with the Schnieders family to give them thanks and express his sorrow for their loss.
This may have been the first time that the two families affected by this turn of events got in touch, but it wouldn’t be the last. In fact, they insisted on getting together and becoming acquainted as soon as possible.
But they didn’t just stop there – they also stunned the hospital staff who had carried out the transplant with a get-together. Tears, hugs and emotion overflowed and there was an instant connection based on the drama of the day. As a consequence, the two families have joined destinies as one.
Mock told Yahoo Lifestyle, “After the first two minutes, it felt like we had known each other forever, just like a real family.” And that’s not the only change Mock has noticed. Indeed, he said that the liver transplant had altered his appearance, with faster-sprouting whiskers. And not just that – he claims that his tastes have changed, with a newfound love of Schnieders’ beloved chili from local eatery Skyline.
Carrie expressed similar sentiments, telling Yahoo Lifestyle that meeting Mock had really eased the grief of losing her husband. Meanwhile, Schnieders’ mother Gay Vincent told WLWT 5, “This man that we have never met is walking around with a piece of us in him. I am hoping to get a different outlook on the tragedy.”
However, as well as dealing with the grief of losing her husband of five years, Carrie also has the financial challenge of raising her three children – Trenton, 9, Cletie, 4, and Samantha, 2, without the income from her husband. She had not had a paying job before the incident.
The family were getting by on Schnieders’ income as a cashier at grocery store. However, Carrie now faced finding a way to support them financially and emotionally. Their youngest child, Samantha suffers from Down syndrome, and it’s down to Carrie to take her to see medical staff.
To help Carrie achieve that, a family friend set up a GoFundMe page. The page describes the heroics that the pair had performed as a family, the incredible liver transport story, and the burden that the family now face.
Consequently, the public support for this cause has been nothing short of incredible. In the two months after the launch of the GoFundMe page, 299 different people donated a total of nearly $23,000.
It’s hard to say that the family don’t deserve this money. Through the donation of his kidneys and liver, Schnieders extended three lives. And by giving tissues and corneas, he helped out even more people, as many as 50.
With that in mind, Schnieders’ parents paid public tribute to him. His father, who had the same name, told WLWT 5, “He had the heart of a lion. I mean he might have been the smallest guy, but man he could compete.” And Schnieders Sr. continued, “A parent should never lose a child. We know that he is in a better place. We know he has done wondrous things for everybody. Throughout his life and now in the afterlife. He is truly my hero.”
Meanwhile, John Mock has become an honorary family member, and he gets in touch with Carrie weekly. The two families hoped to get together again in October 2018.