A second chance at life: They'll dance to that

Dancing duo gets second chance at life

 

It's a story of resilience, unfaltering love and the power of organ donors to save lives.

Matthew Miller and Lisa Vegas of Shaker Heights waltz today with the grace and spirit that comes with a miracle second chance at life.

"I'm married to an angel in a princess costume," Miller said.

Vegas is a world professional champion ballroom dancer. Her greatest prize isn't any trophy on the shelf, but in the love of her life in her arms.

"Everyday's a gift," Vegas said.

That's because for months, tomorrow wasn't guaranteed.

Miller was dying from an advanced liver disease. Medication didn't work. Out of options, Miller needed a liver transplant.

"You just don't realize how precious life is until someone tells you it will go away," Vegas said.

Miller's blood type had less than a 10 percent chance of ever getting the life-saving transplant. But on April 13, a young 20-something liver donor saved this 57-year-old who couldn't even walk in the days before the transplant.

"Six weeks later, she had me on the ballroom dance floor," Miller said. "Slowest waltz ever."

Vegas laughed through tears when she agreed and said, "Slow waltz, yes. But I was so happy, I cried. I could just see he was surprised that he could even do it!"

With a few weeks of training, their feet followed the lead of their grateful hearts and they were tearing up the dance floor in ballroom competitions -- and they were winning.

Their beautiful, gut-wrenching journey took them to a national competition just 10 weeks post-transplant, and just last month to one of the largest ballroom competitions in the world.

"Having his new liver and his health back, he's just always been a go-getter, but now it's like, he's going for it!" Vegas said.

Miller smiled and teared up himself when he said, "In March, I couldn't walk. Here it is the first part of December and I'm doing a Vietnamese waltz."

"I just love him so much, and I'm so proud of him!" Vegas said.

Matthew calls Lisa the "ultimate care-giver" through his journey up to and back from death's doorstep.

Now they're giving back. The couple has started a care giver mentoring program for transplant patients with the Cleveland Clinic called, "You're never alone,"

 


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