More than 119,000 people in the United States are currently awaiting an organ transplant, and 22 of them will die on any given day, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Keith Stampley is thankful that he is not among them, and he traveled to Broomfield from Alton, Ill. — home of the world's tallest man, he is proud to say — to show his thanks to the mother of the man whose liver has given him a new lease on life.

"I don't have any answers," Stampley said when asked by a television reporter how he felt after meeting Boulder resident Julie Spear at the lobby of the Omni Interlocken Resort on Friday afternoon.

"I'm so high right now," he said. "This is such a blessing from God."

Spear was also overcome with emotion upon meeting the one of the people who received organs from her son. The two spent several minutes hugging it out and proclaiming one another family.

Spear's 19-year-old son, Evan, was fatally injured following a car crash south of Pueblo in May 2015. He had been returning home to Boulder from University of Arizona, where he was majoring in business. He would have graduated this spring.

Spear and Stampley connected via the donor alliance, and Stampley came to Colorado to meet Spear but also cheer for her team that is participating in the Donor Dash 5K in Denver this Sunday. Spear's team has more than 200 members.


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"There are no words," she said. "He's here because of my son. I'm so happy Evan was able to give him life by being an organ donor. It's an affirmation of his gift of life."

Spear said that four people received organs from her son, and his eyes and tissue were also donated. She urged everyone who is able to fill the organ donor card that will leave the tell-tale heart emblazoned on their driver's license.

"It's not something we think about," she said. "We think it's just a heart on the license, but it's not."

Stampley said he was on the donor list for about two years before he received his liver, moving up the list as his health began to decline further and he was near death. He reiterated Spear's appeal for people to become organ donors. He added that his seven children have all filled out the paperwork to do so.

"You have the power if something drastic happens to let someone else live — multiple people," he said. "Everyone who is old enough to sign it — just sign it."

John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/johnbearwithme