Recipient of heart transplant sends teddy bear with heartbeat to donor's family
John Reid decided to donate his son Dakota's organs after the 16-year-old died in a car crash last year. This month, he got a thank you from the man who received his son's heart: A teddy bear with a very special heartbeat inside.
John's wife Stephanie posted an emotional video showing her husband's reaction as he opened the package from the recipient of his son's heart, Robert O'Connor. "I would have preferred to give this to you in person, but not sure when that would happen," John said, as he read from the letter O'Connor sent.
John eventually began to break down as he opened the package to reveal a Build-A-Bear dressed in a shirt reading, "Best Dad Ever." He then heard the audio recording inside the bear: His son's heart beating inside the man it saved.
"When I got the bear, my heart was filled with joy. I did not expect any of this," said John. "I never left Dakota's side. At night I would lay my head on his chest for hours at a time, every night, listening to his heartbeat. Now, thanks to Bob, I can list [sic] to his heartbeat again!"
Dakota was killed in a car crash in January 2019. He was riding as a passenger in the car when the driver pulled out in front of an SUV, John told CBS News.
"When they said, 'It's time,' they rolled him out and we followed," John said. "When we turned the corner, both sides of the hallway was [sic] lined up with nurses, doctors and staff as we walked between them in Dakota's honor to the OR to say our final 'see you soon.'"
The Virginia family didn't initially know where their son's organs would be going, but eventually O'Connor's daughter tracked the Reid family down and reached out. It wasn't long until O'Connor sent John the bear.
John told CBS News he speaks with O'Connor daily about the importance of organ donation and how they hope to spread the word on the good it can do.
"To give the gift of life is to continue God's plan for both the donor families and the recipient," John said. "We want to share our stories to promote organ donations and show families how it really helps the donor families with healing and closer [sic] to know their love [sic] on lives on."
The two even plan to meet "soon" for the first time. "We are blood now! We are family!" John added.
Robert isn't the only person who Dakota, and the family's selfless decision, helped save. John said he has been contacted by a farmer who received his son's kidney and pancreas, as well as a 21-year-old man who can now see thanks to his son's eyes.
"It was so comforting and fulfilling to know he lives on," John said. "It has helped us so much to know he helped save lives. It is the best healing and comfort I could ever ask for. For sure, it is a part of God's plan."
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