In 2014, doctors told 25 year old Heather Krueger that she had only a few months to live. Diagnosed with stage 4 liver disease, her only hope was a matching donor liver which could take months or even years to find, time she did not have. So many people tested themselves and came back negative as a match. Heather needed a miracle.

That miracle was an ex-marine who, having heard of her plight, got himself tested and then offered his own liver to her even though he had never met her. As if giving away a vital organ was not enough, Chris Dempsey also organized a fund raiser to pay for her medical bills.
In March 2015, the 8 hour surgery took place successfully. Heather survived and healed slowly but surely.

Chris and Heather, after the surgery (2015)

In attempting to find her in 2017, I encountered some difficulties as she now goes by the name of Heather Dempsey. (Why does that surname sound so familiar, Watson?)

Oh, right! I forgot to tell you that part, didn't I?

Before the surgery, Chris Dempsey had assured her that she owed him nothing and they could go their separate ways once they had recovered. Boy, did Chris get that one wrong!

In a real-life story for the ages (that seriously needs a Bollywood movie version!), the two fell in love during the course of their recovery, slowly gathering the courage to admit their feelings for one another. Fittingly, considering the fairy-tale script of it all, the knight in shining armour proposed to the radiant princess after a romantic night that included a carriage ride.

In 2016, Chris and Heather were married.

I got in touch with Heather last month and so will allow her to talk for the rest of this post.

Q. This March marked two successful years since the operation. Congratulations on that. How are you feeling now?

Heather: I am feeling pretty good now. I am on anti-rejection medicine which I will be on for the rest of my life. The doctors have reduced that quite a bit though since my blood work has been stable. I wish I had more energy than I do but I am so happy that I am progressing so well.

Q. I read that both of you were hesitant to reveal your feelings as they developed initially, because of the circumstances. You may not know this but that's usually the plot of many a Bollywood movie - the reveal! So who finally made the first move and how did the other react?

Heather: Haha! Yes, I wasn't sure if my feelings were true or if I was just so happy that I finally got a donor! After spending some more time with Chris before the surgery, I started to have more feelings for him and realized that this was someone I could see myself with. One night when he was over at my house, we were watching a movie together. I wanted him to make the first move but couldn't wait haha! I leaned in and gave him a kiss on the lips and he kissed back. Of course, we both felt then that this was going to lead to a possible boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.

Q. Could you share with us a little bit more about the moments from your love story that make you smile even today.

Heather: When we were recovering in the intensive care unit, I would walk down to his room (which was 3 rooms down from mine) and we would walk together around the nurses station to try to increase our lung capacity. It's funny now when we have gone back to visit the nurses they joke and say 'we knew something was going on with you guys!' They are very happy for us as well.

One of the things I still laugh at today is when my dad walked into my room and was red in the face and laughing hard. I asked what was so funny and he said Chris's mom tripped on his catheter!! I started laughing and I was holding my stomach as I was still in a lot of pain. Chris was most nervous about the catheter and his mom was hovering over him. As she went to back off a bit, she tripped on the catheter. Thankfully, it wasn't pulled out, only tugged on. Chris and I still laugh at that today and I make fun of him about it.

And he has the biggest sweet tooth ever! Chris lost about 30 pounds after the surgery so when he did go back to work he would buy doughnuts every morning in order to gain some weight back. 

Q. We know the gesture of selflessness of your husband and your love story that brought you both into the limelight. Could you share with us a little bit more about the Chris you know now?

Heather: Chris has such a great sense of humor, loves our two dogs that sleep with us in bed, and I find it so cute that he will watch Lifetime movies with me! He is also very close with my family which I love because I have always been very close with my family and we all live near one another.

Heather & Chris Dempsey in 2017

Why I want you to remember Chris Dempsey 

Chris and Heather for me is the kind of story that restores faith in so many things - humanity, selflessness, love, soulmates, serendipity, karma, fairy-tales and happily ever afters. Unlike in earlier posts, I am not going to give my opinion here.
Why would I when Heather is right here to speak about him?

Chris is my best friend and my guardian angel. I am forever grateful for what he did for me and it's still hard to believe that I went from my death bed to falling in love. He has helped me learn to love again,persevere when life gets hard and given me a second chance at life. I feel we can get through anything in life together and he is such a great husband. I appreciate everything he does and I look forward to the future and our continued good health.
- Heather Dempsey

Not had enough of this magical love story? Want more of Chris & Heather, you say?
You want to see their wedding and hear her wedding vows too, you say?
Greedy little munchkin, ain't ya? Well, here you go!

This is part of my #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes: Shining Examples of Kindness and Compassion. You can find other real-life heroes here.


Shalini said…
It's like he gave her his liver and she gave him her heart. Thank you, Roshan for writing about them. Such a selfless act that resulted in a beautiful journey of love and marriage. So, glad that you could interview Heather!
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Wow. I am at a loss for words. This is just the kind of thing I needed to read today.

Been sufferibg from a nasty head cold and fever the last 3 days and fell off a flight of stairs today (no joke). So this post was the perfect ray of sunshine.

And now I am
headed to check out the YouTube video. :D

Thank you so much for sharing this Roshan. It made my day!

Vinitha Dileep said…
This such a heartwarming tale, Roshan. And it is a real life story! That makes it even more beautiful. See this world is not that bad after all. Chris Dempsey sure is a real life hero. 😊 Thank you for sharing such beautiful stories, Roshan.
Vinodini Iyer said…
This sounds like a fairy tale wedding. The prince came to save the princess and she in return gave him her heart! Chris really deserves a standing ovation. Heather is one lucky woman - really!
Vidya Sury said…
Magical post. Truth is stranger than fiction! Thank you for sharing this miracle story. Love the happy ending!
Arpita Sharma said…
When love and compassion work together, expect a miracle. And that is what happened! The world needs many more Chris'. I wish Heather and Chris all the love and lots of laughter together.
This is truly magical. SO much of goodness and warmth in this one. thanks for sharing. Loved it. And all the best to Heather and Chris and may they fall in love over and over again.
Rajlakshmi said…
I don't know what to say. This is so beautiful and heart warming. Chris is indeed a wonderful human being, the kind we need in today's world. I wish them lots of happiness. Thank you for sharing their story.
Alana said…
This is truly what love for your fellow man/woman is all about. I have read of this but the personal interview really made this post special. May they have more than their share of happiness and long lives. Enjoying your series!
Shilpa Garg said…
Oh Wow!! This is so heartwarming and so very beautiful... a shining example of a selfless and generous human spirit. Thanks for a wonderful day brightener story, Roshan!!
Damyanti said…
What a fairy tale, Roshan! Thanks for sharing this--I needed this sweet, moving story to light up my morning.
Swathi Shenoy said…
It was like a perfect fairy tale. I am at loss of words right now reading about their story and seeing the video. This is the definition of True Love.

Truth is sweeter than fiction:) How absolutely wonderful! Started my morning by reading this and I am glad I did.

*C for Controlled: Shailaja/The Moving Quill*
Rekha Dhyani said…
Wow! Just wow! That's a really lovely little love story, Roshan. Selfless indeed. I love the way you choose your themes. Lots to learn.
Vasantha Vivek said…
Oh ..... Roshan ...... You loaded my morning with tons of love & compassion..... really moved into tears ..... May Chris & Heather live long still more romantically...... my kudos to you Roshan for bringing such real life heroes for our sight ...... waiting to read more ......
Sid said…
First thing I read this morning - of course, your tagging helped :)
Sometimes selfless deeds have their own ways of bringing rewards - Karma :)
Lovely sweet story and definitely what all of us need to read so we remember that all hope is not lost for humanity.
Chris and Heather - so lovely to know your story through Roshan's blog, and wishing you all the happiness and joy as you continue your lives together
renu sethi said…
speechless, you made my morning ☺
As promised, I'm here first thing in the morning :)

This is SUCH a beautiful story. It's the kind we hear about in movies and books. I don't think I have the words to express how this made me feel... :')
Modern Gypsy said…
Oh, you made me cry early in the morning! This is such a beautiful, stirring love story - very Bollywood plot line, but knowing that it's a true story - so many feels! Wish these two lovebirds a lifetime of love and happiness!
Ls said…
Truth is more magical than fiction. Such a beautiful story. Wishing Chris and Heather lot of love and happiness. This is so rare.
Mithila Menezes said…
This is the first post I'm reading for today, and it has filled me with so much happiness and positivity! Like you said, it seems like a Bollywood movie. But to me, it seems like something love should always be: selfless!

I hope Chris and Heather have a very beautiful happily ever after! :)
Jaibala Rao said…
First thing I see in the morning and it was something I needed to read today.Oh love you sweet thing! Doc thank you so much for sharing this story and letting us me Chris and Heather today. Their story will stay with me forever.

Chris and Heather thank you for sharing your story, here and here's to a lot of happiness and love and the best that life has to offer.

Now I can go and watch the video again and shed some more happy tears.
tulika singh said…
I love love stories and love the ones with happy endings. I get to start my day with a warm fuzzy feeling, with my faith in humanity ever stronger and with a happy grin on my face. Thank you Roshan for sharing this one. I wish there were more like Chris. This makes me curious about him. You must get him on the blog too. I am wondering - What made him do it? Why would someone do something so completely selfless for a complete stranger.
Kala Ravi said…
Heartwarming story that rekindles your faith in humanity and kindness and also re-enforces that love can be found in the bleakest hours. Hearing Heather speak about the whole journey and some candid moments was so touching. She is lucky to have Chris as her knight in shining armor. Thanks for sharing this amazing story doc.
Priya Paramesh said…
Simply wonderful. This is such a heart warming story and has lifted my moods already. Chris is indeed a real life hero. So is Heather. Together they make the cutest couple in the world. This marriage is definitely made in heaven. Whenever I feel low, your blog is going to be one of the places i head to. Keep rocking as you are!
Me Otherwise said…
This is such a lovely story you have unearthed. Chris and heather are both heros in their own way. Hope they have many many years of togetherness.
I am in awe of this theme Roshan, there is so much inspirational in this world that we often overlook. This story in particular so heartwarming and special.
Illeen said…
What a beautiful post to start off the day with! Floods me with happiness :)
Anmol Rawat said…
I'm not going to exaggerate it. I'm an emotional person and your post literally brought tears to my eyes. This is one of the most beautiful real love stories I have ever read. Salute to Chris for the selflessness; it's so hard to find such people these days.
Thank you for choosing this theme, I'll say again. You are doing an amazing job at it. Do compile these stories into a book when you finish the challenge. People need to read such stories.
Now if this isn't the perfect love story I don't know what is! So glad you got to interview Heather. Thanks for sharing, Doc.
Soumya said…
Oh wow, these are what fairy tales are made of! So magical and so beautiful. They say love is magic and this story is out there to prove it!

God bless Chris Dempsey for his selfless deed. They say good things happen to good people, and look what he got in return? The love of his life!

I'm so proud of you for choosing this theme, Doc! Heroes like him need to be celebrated. Also, Heather is a true heroine. For having survived her ordeal alone at first and then with Chris.

God bless both of them will health, love and happiness.
Ritika Tiwari said…
I just woke up - and this completely uplifted my mood.

PS - The fact that you were able to track down Heather even with a change surname goes to proof that you could be a private investigator in another life :)
This one just made me go all awwww....!
Nabanita said…
Couldn't wait. This is so wonderful and it almost is like they were destined to be together. But what's even more special is the way they came together. Selfless true love. I just wish them all the best and happiness. Thanks for making my day.
Anita said…
Sweet story Doc!
Happy for them! May God bless them with great health & happiness!
Heaps to learn from this priceless love story, glad you brought it forth so beautifully
Sanch Writes said…
Beautiful story is a movie in the making for sure :)

Sanch @ Sanch Writes
Parul said…
What a lovely story. You know like they say about universe conspiring to get two people to spend their lives together. I so believe in such stories - they restore my faith is humanity and love.
This is probably the best thing I've read today! I so fell in love with the magic of their selflessness, compassion and of course their cute little love story! A big hug to you, Roshan, for telling us this beautiful story today! And Chris and Heather, if you are reading this, God bless you both with the best of everything!! Much love!

Shubhangi @ The Little Princess
Suzy said…
what an amazing and beautiful story. Soulmates from heaven. Thanks for sharing. loving your series.
Aditi said…
A magical love story! It was destiny that brought these two beautiful souls together. Much love to Chris and Heather! You guys made me love 'love' so much more! :)
Geetika Gupta said…
You know this is the kind that they show in movies and stories like these make us believe that they do exist! That there is nothing wrong in expecting unconditional love, that love is above everything else in the world!!

Prathibha shivakumar said…
Such a beautiful story.. Totally at loss of words.. Wishing both of you a great life ahead..
Sheela said…
Seems like out of the world love story! Heart touching and at the same time inspiring! May the couple be blessed with long, happy and healthy life!
I wonder how many times they must have heard the 'He gave her his liver, she gave him her heart' line over the last two years :D
I wondered whether to keep the Youtube video since the post had gone long without it. Then figured it would be a nice 'cherry on top of the cake' instead
Cathy Graham said…
I think I'd read an article about this couple somewhere else but must say, Roshan, your article was so much better. So uplifting and inspiring. Your interview with Kelly was so down to earth and touching. Loved how you compared it to a Bollywood movie in some ways. Cute!

I am enjoying your Real Life Hero Stories. We do need more of these positive and uplifting stories in these troubled times.
These two definitely make one hope that the world can't be all that bad, right? :)
I couldn't miss the chance to paint that picture... I mean, there is a carriage ride in there already!
Yup... truth is better than fiction too!
I certainly believe they will (w.r.t. that last line)
You seem to be the only one among those who commented who knew this story :) Glad to hear it reached someone's ears atleast prior to this
Definitely a story that will bring a smile on people's faces.
Glad to share it :)
I know. This beats Bollywood any day :)
Glad you loved it :)
This year, I really wanted to immortalize some good guys instead of the usual celebs. This gives me that chance.
Thanks for sharing Vasantha. Means a lot to me too :)
We really need to keep hope alive. Stories like this go a long way in that regard.
glad to hear that, Renu :)
Saumy Nagayach said…
This is surreal. We don't hear such stories often and you brought this story to us in such a beautiful way, Doc! I have not taken part in A to Z but am following many blogs and trust me this theme is the one which attracted me the most. We really need these stories to keep ourselves going in this age of darkness. Keep them coming! :)
So heartwarming. Talk about serendipity and soulmates! Thank you for sharing.
Kalpanaa M said…
What a fabulous story. It made my day. Absolutely gorgeous.
Confusion or Clarity #Lexicon of Leaving
Reema D'souza said…
This indeed is a fairy tale! It was such selfless gesture on Chris's part and I'm glad that they found each other through a bad situation but emerged happier and together!
Wow! I am short of words. What a play of destiny it is. Thanks a lot for sharing such wonderful stories Roshan. This story made my day indeed :)
Indywrites said…
Such a sweet tale, a miracle indeed. And a movie plot alright!! :D
yay! Thank so much for dropping by :) Yes. It is tough to find the right adjectives for this
ya. knowing this is real and not just a work of fiction does make a world of difference, does it not? :)
Took the words right out of my mouth
Deepa said…
Wow! this is really a fairy tale and such a sweet story. Thanks Roshan for bringing it to us. I am loving your theme and all these stories.
Somehow I always imagine I would end up like Inspector Cleauseau (Pink Panther) or Johnny English, at best.
I agree... it is one of the rare stories in this series where I was stuck with a choice of aplenty while deciding which word to use in the title to describe the person!
Haha... yes, it is a lovely news report! Why don't we have more of these kind of news reports in our channels!!
Tina Basu said…
This is what is called a fairy tell - along with liver the hearts matches too! Wonderful post Roshan, it feels my heart with joy that such good people exists on earth.
Twinkling Tina Cooks
Tina Basu
Real life inspires movies.This really needs a movie version.God does guide our path.Its a love story and story which puts faith back in humanity.Loved it.I love love stories!
That is so sweet! So much more precious than that Prince returning Cinderella's shoe! Real fairy tale stuff! Loved reading about this, Doc! Thank you for sharing their story. I wish Chris and Heather many MANY years of togetherness and bliss!
Happy AtoZing!
Chicky @
Menaka Bharathi said…
This is truly a heartwarming account Roshan, Its love and compassion that keeps us going till the end. Launching SIM Organics

*Menaka Bharathi*

Prateek Mathur said…
Hard to believe, such people and stories exist ! Lovely 😊
Boopathy said…
hats off to the selfless act..:) and to u too Roshan for an excellent write up
That is a thought worth following up on :)
I think that bit - "love can be found in the bleakest hours" is the key for so many of us at times. I know it is for me.
Hopefully, will keep cheering you up as the month progresses :)
Thats my wish too! Decades and decades of happiness.
Thanks Illeen :) Glad it made you happy.
Thanks Anmol :) Means a lot. And I know I was so touched by this story too. I just had to chase it down directly to the source and feature them.
It was worth it finding and interviewing her. A lovely individual.
Amen. I know. This is as close to a fairy tale as I have ever heard in real life.
Glad you loved it. It truly is a wonderful tale.
Bollywood ain't got nothing on this.
That is the popular opinion :)
This is one of those 'written in the stars' stories, isn't it?
I'm glad so many loved it. Touchwood, they would have read all these messages and felt the joy too.
Soulmates from heaven - that is an apt one.
Find true love and you have everything you need in the world.
Thanks Cathy. That's a compliment I will selfishly accept :)
Thanks Saumy. Do drop by... 22 more posts like this to go :D
drcow said…
Amazing story.. Beautifully written
Haha... I guess what we should do next is get Chris and Heather to cosplay as a real-life Prince and Princess? You guys hearing us? :D
Beautifully written piece on an incredible story. Wow.

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