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35-year-old man accepts 8th-grade diploma on behalf of deceased teen whose liver he received

By Mason White 12:00 PM June 11, 2017
Silvia Vansteyn with Michael Balsley-Rodriguez (left) with Eric Blackwell
Silvia Vansteyn with Michael Balsley-Rodriguez (left)
with Eric Blackwell
By: William Martin

(Scroll down for video) It was an emotional moment for a mother when a man accepted her son’s 8th-grade diploma after his death.

Silvia Vansteyn was horrified when 13-year-old Michael Balsley-Rodriguez, accidentally shot himself while holding a gun.

Sadly, he did not survive, leaving his family devastated. The family decided to donate his organs in order to give other people the gift of life.

Meanwhile, 35-year-old Eric Blackwell was diagnosed with stage 3 liver cancer last year. He was given three years to live.

However, Blackwell said that he was number 5,000 something on the list, so it may have been six years until he would receive a liver.

After Balsley-Rodriguez died, it was discovered that he was a near-perfect match for the liver, and he underwent life saving surgery.

Blackwell wanted to do something special for the family after they gave him a new lease on life. On Wednesday, Blackwell accepted Balsley-Rodriguez’s diploma at his 8th grade graduation.

Vansteyn said that she had mixed emotions when she heard her son’s name called at commencement ceremonies and seeing the man who now has his liver, walking across the stage.

Vansteyn was also stunned when she learned that Blackwell is a football coach as it was her son’s dream to do just that.

As a matter of fact, Blackwell coached the same team that he played for, but in a different age division.