‘We talked about meeting all year. In a perfect world, they could have both been saved, but that isn’t our story.’: Parents donate daughter’s heart after infant loss, meet recipient family

More Stories like:

Lacey — donor’s mom

“After our sweet baby girl Alaiya passed of bacterial meningitis, we were pulled aside and asked about donating her organs. My husband and I did not hesitate as we both replied with ‘YES!’ Alaiya was such a giving child that we knew it was the right thing to do. We knew that she would be saving others’ lives. When we found out Alaiya’s heart saved a 10-month-old little boy, we were very pleased with our decision on having Lai be a donor.

Husband and wife who holds baby girl walk in road beside older daughter
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

The entire first year was extremely hard for us all. Losing my mother and our daughter eight days apart was the worst thing that has ever happened. We shortly found out we were pregnant with our third daughter. Grieving on top of being pregnant was not easy for us by any means. Our 3-year-old was devastated she lost her sister and best friend. We definitely came even closer together as a family. We often wondered if the recipient family was appreciative of the beautiful gift Alaiya had given. I, myself, prayed we would be able to meet them and hear her sweet heartbeat again.

Mothers of two families hug while fathers shake hands in park
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

On December 28, 2016, our photographer reached out to me and said someone special wanted to write us a letter and asked if it was okay if she gave our address. I told her yes. But I was so curious who it possibly could be. She finally broke down and told me it was the mother of the heart recipient. I was extremely emotional yet happy.

Two mothers sit at picnic table near playground while their husband stands over them
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

Angela messaged me on Facebook and we shared our stories. She couldn’t tell me enough how grateful they were for giving Mason a chance at life and that her and her family will make sure he lives a fulfilling life. When we saw for ourselves how she ALWAYS recognizes Alaiya in her posts about Mason, we knew she loved her. We talked about meeting all year. We knew it was important for all of us to have a relationship because we are connected for life. It happened to work out perfectly for us to meet on September 25 because Mason had a doctor appointment in Nashville and that was a halfway point for all of us. My husband and I had a roller coaster of emotions running through us.

Woman sits at picnic table beside her daughter listening to little boy's heart that once belonged to their baby
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Woman listens to little boy's heart that used to belong to her daughter with stethoscope
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Little girl stands with stethoscope in her ears listening to little boys heart beat that used to be her sister's
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Man leans over listening to little boys heart beat that used to belong to his daughter
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Man wipes tear away as he stands above his wife and two daughters
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

Seeing Mason for the first time, we instantly felt a connection. So many feelings were running through me. I was happy and sad all in one. Seeing for ourselves how happy and energetic Mason is was a relief. It showed us how ‘perfect’ Alaiya’s heart was for him.

Two families sit at picnic table at playground
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Woman sits at picnic table holding arms out for little boy who has her daughters heart to hug her
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Little boy who had heart transplant hugs woman who donated her daughters heart
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

This entire experience is ‘bittersweet’ because as parents we want all of our children with us, and that isn’t our situation. In a perfect world, Alaiya and Mason could have both been saved and Angela and I could have met in the baby aisle of Target, but that isn’t our story.

Mothers hug as they sit at picnic table
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

We are so glad Mason is doing well, but as parents, we would give anything to have our baby back. We definitely saw ‘Alaiya’ in him. We are so happy our families met. It was a great visit and we know for certain that we could not have a better recipient family. The love they have for our sweet angel baby shows in volumes. We are forever bonded as a unit!”

Woman holds picture frame of deceased daughter and little boy in mom's arms points at it
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Woman holds little boy beside his mother who holds picture of deceased little girl
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

Angela — recipient’s mom

“Meeting our donor family was so special. I am still amazed at how quickly Mason started to interact with them. It normally takes him weeks to warm up to people he’s never met, but it was different with them — almost as if he’s known them for ages.

Man holds little boy whose father stands beside them holding picture frame of deceased little girl
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit
Two families stand outside while one mother holds frame of other mother's deceased daughter
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

I am a firm believer that a parent’s love is forever woven into our hearts, and there’s no doubt that the heart that beats inside of Mason knows the familiarity of Brandon and Lacey. I am forever grateful for the gift of life, and I will always make sure that Mason lives a life big enough for two.”

Little boy who had heart transplant stands smiling holding mother's hand and mother of girl who donated her heart
World Of Broken Hearts/Photographer Suha Dabit

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by photographer Suha Dabit, of White House, Tennessee. It originally appeared on her Facebook page. Submit your own story here

SHARE this story on Facebook to let others know the importance of organ donation.

For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter: