In life, Marine Lance Cpl. Libardo Anthony Jimenez served his country. In death, he saved at least five lives.
When he got his driver's license at age 21 in February, he signed the back to be an organ donor to give others a "second chance," his family said.
Jimenez, 21, a Marine corporal from Bellmore, died March 23, three days after collapsing during a boxing workout at Camp Lejeune, N.C. After his death at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, N.C., his organs were made available.
"I'll take it," Frederick W. Strisko, 59, said he told the surgeon who notified him March 25 of the liver transplant - if Strisko could get to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan right away.
Strisko, a general contractor from Queens, said Sunday he was diagnosed 18 months ago with hepatitis, which made his skin and lips yellowish.
"I turned pink right after the surgery," said a hearty-sounding Strisko, expected to go home to Flushing today.
He knew from doctors that the donor was a Marine, he said: "I think this kid was a real hero. I hope that I have the intestinal fortitude that if there ever comes a time, I would make the decision to donate organs. It's a little intimidating."
When it became clear her son was about to die, Penny Palmer put out the call on Facebook to friends and family. If they had a loved one or knew anyone needing organs, her son's would soon be available.
Based on what her son had told her, the mother said, she opted to have her son be a "direct donor" to whomever the family wanted, instead of going down the organ waiting list to the first match. The United Network for Organ Sharing and its local affiliate, Carolina Donor Services, could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Relatives told friends and friends told co-workers who told others. The Facebook page got little response, Palmer said Sunday: "It's not like 'I'm moving. Anybody need a living room set, a dining room set?' "
At least six people got her son's organs, Palmer said Pitt Memorial and Carolina Donor Service told the family, but she doesn't know their identities. A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment without the family's written permission.
Palmer said she had been told that her son's kidney went to someone a few degrees of separation from the immediate family and that two potential recipients were rejected.
One was Dennis Patti, 56, of Huntington Station, whose wife, Christine, had heard from a friend whose sister-in-law is the aunt of Jimenez's fiancee.
Just as the liver transplant was about to start March 24, doctors told Patti that his heart had not recovered enough from an earlier infection.
But the Pattis were so impressed by Jimenez that they went to the wake and met his family.
"I had to," Dennis Patti said. "This young man was willing to be a donor and save my life . . . I just hope whoever got it lives a beautiful life. That's more than I could ever ask for."
For Strisko's son, Fred III of Melville, the episode has given him chills. He works as a hair colorist and said he became emotional in telling a client that his father had just gotten a liver from a young Marine boxer.
The client sobbed - she told him she knew the family.
"I believe a lot of this is meant to be, more than coincidental," the hair colorist said.
Sunday, as Palmer was in her son's apartment near the base, packing his belongings to bring home, she pestered her brother, Ronald Palmer of Centereach with, a question:
"Who got his heart?" As yet, the family doesn't know.
"He wanted his heart to go to someone young," the mother said. "You're 65 or 60, you've kind of lived a life. He wanted someone who didn't have a chance to live."