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Burlington’s Coach Craig gets life-saving liver transplant just in time for birthday

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DUKE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL -- Birthdays just don't get better than this.

"I will never, ever be the same from all the love,” said Bethany Edwards, wife of well-known local youth baseball coach Craig Edwards. "We'll be forever grateful."

Craig Edwards received a life-saving liver transplant this weekend. Today is his 36th birthday.

"The love and support we got from everyone in the community was just remarkable. It helped give me the strength to keep going," said Edwards.

Edwards, a father of three who doesn't drink or smoke, found out last year that his liver was in such bad shape he needed a liver transplant to live. Since then, complete strangers became friends. So many people in the community rallied together, rooting for him privately and publicly on Facebook. Turns out, that's what saved his life.

"Bethany would send out updates about me. Her cousin started posting on Facebook. People kept reposting. People we didn't even know. Then, when someone died last week, her family asked that her liver go directly to me," Edwards said.

"Direct donation is incredibly rare. While it's very beautiful, it almost never happens because it requires a lot of things to line up just perfectly. This is a beautiful and wonderful way for this to work out, though," said Taylor Anderton, with Carolina Donor Services. "Almost 3,000 people just in North Carolina are waiting for an organ donation. If people would like to sign up, it's so easy. First have a conversation with your family and then sign up on our website. It's just an incredible feeling to know that you or a loved one helped save a life."

Edwards is recovering better than expected and could go home as early as Thursday.