Man receives liver from Oakland murder victim

December 25, 2011 7:23:08 PM PST
A man is recovering at a San Francisco hospital after getting an organ transplant, one of several people who received an organ from 23-year-old Charles Butler, Jr., who was shot three days ago in Oakland.

On this Christmas, Butler's family and friends are celebrating the young man and his gift of life to others.

The liver transplant surgery began at 7:45 a.m. Sunday and continued for about six hours. While that surgery was in progress in San Francisco, a church congregation in Richmond was paying tribute to Butler, a young man who is giving so much even in death.

Butler was looking forward to a future full of adventure. He had just been awarded his merchant Marine passport and was about to start his first assignment.

A video of Butler when he started his training was part of a tearful tribute at Butler's church. He was killed before he could get his graduation certificate for the church-sponsored program, so his parents were awarded the certificate at a short ceremony.

But the outpouring of emotion is just part of the honor the 23-year-old is receiving.

Butler was killed last week a few yards away from his home, shot to death while driving by people he'd never even met. Butler is also an organ donor, and this Christmas, Daniel Murphy is a recipient of his liver.

"It's very surreal right now, and I guess it's just starting to hit home," said wife Delia Murphy. "I just feel really thankful for the family."

Butler's family is still struggling with not having him around this Christmas, but his gift of life is helping them through their loss.

"The people who were in need of his organs -- I believe that was Charles' way of letting us know he is at work right now," said sister Valerie Butler.

Sister Ann Butler said his pancreas, kidneys and lungs were going to other people as well. Butler's sisters said those surgers were all happening on Christmas Day, and they hope at some point to meet all of those recipients to see a part of their brother live on.

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