Losing a child is one of the worst and most traumatic things that any parent can suffer. But oftentimes, families are able to take their grief and transform it into something amazing through the gift of organ donation.
That was the case for Lacey and her husband Brandon, whose 2-year-old daughter, Alaiya, unexpectedly passed away. A 10-month-old named Mason ended up receiving her heart, after Alaiya’s parents agreed to donate her organs.
For years, the families wondered about one another but didn’t meet — until September 25, 2017.
A professional photographer was on hand to capture the emotional moment that Alaiya’s family met Mason’s for the very first time, and even listened to their little girl’s heart beating on in his chest.
The photos were shared by World of Broken Hearts (a congenital heart disease and organ donation awareness nonprofit organization) on September 26, 2017. They were also shared by Love What Matters the same day. The pictures and the amazing story quickly went viral, with nearly 5,000 shares and hundreds of emotional comments.
Scroll through to read this touching heart donor story and to see the lovely photos!
Thumbnail Photo: Facebook / Lacey Tiara Wilcox
I had the incredible honor to document the meeting of a family who donated their precious two-year-old daughter’s heart to a little boy. Special thanks to both families for allowing me to share with the world how much Goodness and Love can come out of organ donation.
Alaiya’s mom, Lacey, said:
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.
The entire first year was extremely hard for us all, losing my mother and our daughter 8 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. 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. 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 25th because Mason had a doctor’s appointment in Nashville and that was a halfway point for all of us. My husband and I had a rollercoaster of emotions running through us.
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.
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. 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 yesterday. 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!
Mason’s mom Angela echoed Lacey’s sentiment:
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.
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.
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