LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

At just 22 years old, Ian Heidemann knew what he wanted - to give life to others in the event of tragedy.

And sadly, after five days on life support, that unexpected happened.

It's so hard to describe, it's unbelievably strong, for us, that he made that decision on his own, said his father, Rob.

It's comforting to know that there is still part of him out there helping people, his mother finished.

Through LifeGift, Ian donated many organs from his heart to kidneys, but the most rare was his right hand.

That transfer is the most complicated, because it involves multiple tissues from the skin, muscles, bone and blood vessels and nerves.

And it shares Ian's legacy.

He'll be able to shake someone else's hand, Mr. Heidemann said.

And through grief, that gives these parents comfort.

For us [it is] comforting, it helped us be at peace, Mr. Heidemann said. And inspiring that we're losing our son, but he's going to help so many people.

The donation took place at JPS Health Network, and is the second of its kind in Texas. UT Southwestern launched a hand transplant group last year.

So while this donation and transplant is rare, it could be the start of a growing program.

We think it's so much like him, Mr. Heidemann said. He was always the leader of the group.

Ian's hand went to a farmer who had been waiting for years for a transplant. The family said it is appropriate, as they come from a farming family.

E-mail sslater@wfaa.com

Read or Share this story: http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/health/2014/08/15/13838780/