It almost happened in the story of an 11-year-old Iraqi boy known as Ali, and 31-year-old Army Capt. Brian Freeman, CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports. Just last month, Freeman learned he had won a fight to save Ali's life. That same day, Freeman was kidnapped and killed.
"He's always been a hero to me and our children," says Charlotte Freeman, Brian's widow. "Hopefully he's now a hero to everybody else, and an inspiration to everybody else as well."
Ali's family learned something was wrong with him after a soccer game last year. He says he felt a pain in his chest, and his father took him to a hospital. The diagnosis: a rare heart disease. Shortly after that, Ali's father met Freeman and asked for help.
"As a father himself, it was very important to see Ali's father wish to have his child healed," Charlotte explains.
It took several months, but with some help from Gift of Life International, Freeman was able to jump through all the hoops to raise thousands of dollars and get the approvals Ali needed to go to a New York-area hospital for surgery.
The surgery was performed last week, the same day Charlotte Freeman received her husband's personal effects from Iraq, including a portable video game he used, which she gave to Ali.
"This is Brian's, so it's really his gift to you also," she said to Ali.
Ali is already out of the hospital. He's a living legacy of Capt. Brian Freeman, who died before he could see what he had made possible.
"This is being exposed throughout the nation, throughout the world, what kind of man my husband was," Charlotte says. "That's honoring him."