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Heart Donor Family Meets Recipient In Unexpected Way

May 08, 2019 | Mysti Jordan

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Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult things you can face in this life. If that person is an organ donor and their vital organs go to help others live a long life, it’s got to be very surreal and bittersweet. You’re so sad to have lost that person, but there’s a joy in knowing that they helped save a life somewhere else.

Savannah’s family lost her brother, Donovan, but when he passed, his heart went to someone else. There are laws in place that protect the identity of both the recipient and the donor, but a year ago, the man who received Donovan’s heart wrote Savannah’s family, saying thank you. In return, they wrote back and sent a few pictures of Donovan so this man could see who the heart had belonged to. The families didn’t know anything else about each other because they’re not allowed to share names or ages or location, and Savannah said the experience of having been contacted was kind of odd. You share something major, but you don’t know anything about one another.

Recently, Savannah and her family went to the St. Louis Cardinals Donate Life Day, and they all wore neon green shirts with Donovan’s face on them, honoring him. The event photographer took a picture of them, and Savannah was giving her email address to him so they could get a copy when this woman ran up and said, “Are you Donovan’s family?” Savannah thought maybe it was someone who’d known him from school or work or something, but no. It was the daughter of the man who’d received Donovan’s heart. She recognized the face on the shirt and put two and two together.

The families met and embraced and took photos together, and then the man invited Savannah to put her ear to his chest so she could hear her brother’s heart beat again. She refers to Donovan’s heart recipient as their new family, and said it was such a huge, unexpected blessing to be in the same place at the same time and be able to meet them.

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