MISSOULA, Montana - Montana has the highest percentage of registered organ donors in the country -- an achievement touted by Governor Steve Bullock in a ceremony at the state capitol on Thursday.
Bozeman resident Ian Autry and his family were recognized at the ceremony for making their son, Bryce Autry, an organ donor.
"He was a great kid. We always knew he was going to do great things," said Ian Autry. "We didn't expect it to be in this way, but he's still doing some great things."
Bryce passed away 2 years ago after a bicycle accident.
Autry says shortly after learning of his son's death at hospital, he and his family were approached by organ donation representatives.
"As soon as the people came in and started talking to us, we said 'Yes, start the paperwork and let's get going.'"
Autry says that decision saved four lives and brought sight to two other people through cornea transplants.
The Autrys were able to meet one of those cornea recipients, and with that, they say they gained a new member of the family.
"It's neat to see how much he's changed her life. She even said right away, 'You're all like family now,' and we pretty much consider her extended family."
Stevensville residents Mike and Bonnie Green were also honored at the ceremony. They say their son's organ donations after his passing helped three people.
"It was able to allow us to come out of that dark period," said Mike Green. "Knowing that, somewhere throughout the world, there are people who are excited going to the hospital knowing that their lives will continue on, that they might receive sight that they've lost."
Both families say knowing about the lives their loved ones helped change after their passing has helped them find healing.
"The letters that we've gotten from recipients were just amazing, because they were so thankful. They tell you that you were so much in their prayers as they were going to the hospital," said Bonnie Green.