Heartrending video shows dad hearing his dead daughter's heart beating inside 15-year-old boy after life-saving transplant

By Pieter van Zyl
01 August 2016

“It put us at peace knowing that Katelyn’s heart is still beating."

An emotional video, which encourages families to registers as organ donors, has spread like wildfire online.

“It put us at peace knowing that Katelyn’s heart is still beating even though it’s not in her,” says 14-year-old Katelyn’s father, Shawn Zimmerman, in a video for Fox8 news channel.

It was shortly after Shawn used a stethoscope to listen to his daughter’s heart which is now in the body of 15-year-old Albert Jefferies IV of North Carolina in the US.

Read more: ‘Get Me to 21’ organ donation campaigner dies just months before her 21st birthday

Katelyn was killed when a drunk driver knocked her over while she was on a bike and Albert’s heart was failing due to cardiomyopathy, it caused his heart to struggle to pump blood.

“Thank you for the gift of being able to see more in life,” said a crying Albert, also known as Alj, to Katelyn’s parents. “Thank you for being my miracle.”

Organ donor groups, like the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa, encourage organ recipients to write letters to say thank you to their donor’s families but they ask recipients not to reveal their identity, explains the organisation’s Sharon Munnik

If the letter reveals too much personal information about the recipient, then we edit it before giving it to the donor’s family.

Read more: ‘He was about to die on us’: infant’s miraculous recovery after his heart stopped just hours before transplant

The Organ Donor Foundation is by law not allowed to make the identity of the donor known, a decision made by the Department of Health.

The only instance in which the identity may be made known is in the instance of live transplant, like a kidney, but even then it can only be done if the donor or his family agree to it, elaborates Sharon.

The Zimmerman’s and Turners in the US, wanted to meet each other very much. Butterflies and balloons were released and the families exchanged gifts.

Alj’s mother, Tina, read a poem to convey her thanks: My gratitude could not be put into words. I know how much you sacrificed. To give another a brand new life.”

He was apparently only a few days from death, recalls Tina. Alj was due to wait 99 days for a new heart. “The month Katelyn died was the year Alj was reborn,” added Tina. “We want everyone to see this unity and this selfless thing they did for our family. That’s love.”

There is an estimated 4 300 South African children and adults who are currently waiting for organs to either save them or drastically improve their quality of life. August also happens to be Organ Donor month.

Visit the Organ Donor Foundation’s website at www.odf.org.za or call 0800-22-66-11 toll free to register. You will receive an email with an information pack, an educational pamphlet, an organ donor card and stickers for your ID and drivers licence.

Sources: huffingtonpost.com, odf.org.za, wral.com

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