'It’s almost like I got to hug my daughter again,' she said.
Losing a child is a truly profound loss, one which parents would do anything to undo. Once they've passed away, hearing their laughter or reliving an experience with them would be an opportunity any grieving parent would do anything for. That is what a woman from Indiana was able to do. Amber Morgan lost her 20-year-old daughter, Andreona Williams, to complications resulting from asthma nearly five years ago.
The devastated mom didn't think she would ever feel close to her daughter again, but she recently got the chance to listen to her daughter's heartbeat in the chest of 68-year-old Tom Johnson, who is living with Andreona's heart as a transplant recipient. "It's almost like I got to hug my daughter again," the South Bend, Indiana woman said.
Morgan listened with a stethoscope that was pushed to Johnson's chest during a rare encounter at a hotel in Chicago that was organized by The Indiana Donor Network, reported Chicago Tribune. "As a mother, you listen to your child's heartbeat when you carry them, and I don't think you ever ask to hear it again," she said. "It's amazing."
Johnson claims that this moment has been a long time coming for him and that he had hoped for it. Johnson received the heart after fighting cardiomyopathy and multiple heart-related issues nearly his entire life. "This is just a big blessing for me to meet Amber," he said. "I was praying virtually every night that this would happen. I always referred to my donor, and now I have a name. It's just unbelievable beyond words. Sometimes it takes like months or even longer to get this going. I was so excited. I couldn't miss it."
About a year after receiving his heart transplant at Loyola University Medical Center, Johnson—who resides in Kankakee, Illinois—had written to Morgan in 2019. According to ABC, he wanted to convey his appreciation for the family's choice to give the heart. "It opened up a whole new world of possibilities," Johnson said. "It's just unbelievable. I mean, I can work out in the garden, ride the bike. My sons can't believe how quick I can go."
He sent a second letter too but received no answer up until recently when Amber developed heart problems herself and felt like she would like to meet him. "I read the letter and you hear about it, you know she's in somebody else and helping them, but to actually hear and see the result, it's amazing," Morgan said. "She made me so proud throughout her whole life, and she still makes me proud."
Johnson's wife, Sharon, revealed that he takes good care of Andreona's heart. "He takes very special care of her," she said. "He never misses his heart medication. Never."
Jamie Rivas, director of family and donor services at Indiana Donor Network, said in a statement to the Tribune that the gift of organ donation can bring "a sense of hope and healing" following the loss of a loved one. "By helping them connect to one another, donor families and recipients can help each other celebrate the legacy that is created when a donor gives the gift of life," the statement reads.