Last September 2017 my son was declared brain dead and I decided to try to save the lives of others through this tragedy. Through the gift of life network in 24 hours we found recipients for 4 of his organs.

While this was a difficult time for me now and then, I knew my son would have wanted to find something good out of this terrible accident. Initially I thought I would be able to contact the recipients and find out who they were but I misunderstood and we were only able to anonymously write each other after 6 months and only if we both wanted.

I wrote the heart recipient first as that seems to be easier to do. While I also wrote the kidney and liver recipient only the heart recipient has replied. We have now exchanged 3 letters. The latest thank you coming a few days ago with a picture of his heartbeat. I had sent him my sons with the request he send his back so I could have a tattoo made of my sons heart into his heart.

Letters I might add that must be void of names and places that could possibly help us find each other. They are screened vigilantly even though we have both expressed the desire to meet. This to me is sad.

Although it's been such a difficult year, here is what I know. The heart recipient is 54 years of age. ( as am I) I know through his letters he has 2 children one is a girl. I know his brother died of a similar heart condition 7 years ago. He seems quite religious as he thanks God and "my donor's mother" a lot.

We just passed a year recently and I sent him a happy rebirthday letter. He has taken up gardening ( my son loved to garden and he cried when I told him this because he has just started to take this up and his son asked him if his new heart was a gardener in a previous life. Ok, wait. Now I know he has a son and a daughter.

I am in Brampton. I think he is in the GTA (greater Toronto area ) because he talked about coming into pick up my letter which implies nearby. A heart transplant is a rare thing. Someone has to know someone who had one September 25th 2017 ? I haven't been able to do Christmas. Thank you for your help. Ask me anything..

Comments: 960 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

obereasy5659 karma

I received a kidney from a deceased donor. The hardest part for me was trying to find the words to express how thankful I was for second chance on life. Everything I wrote felt too small or too cliche.

So let me just say how profoundly thankful I am that people like you are able to make the decision to help so many during such a difficult time.

momknowsbest642552 karma

Don't stop saying it to that donor. It helps keep the memory of their loved one alive. !!

QibbyDon7862321 karma

Firstly, I'm sorry for your loss. How hard was the transfer process?

momknowsbest643339 karma

The hardest part was the waiting from the time my son was declared braindead September 23rd 5:14 pm to the harvest Monday September 25th 6 am. I knew I was only keeping him alive as a vessel for someone else's life. That was hard...

mule_roany_mare1077 karma

You don't think about the practical practical problems a person might face when they are going through something so soul wrenching.

I'm grateful to live in a world with people like you who willingly endure terrible things just to help others. You made the world a little bit better for everyone & you also made a world of difference to a handful of people & those who love them. You have done more good for this world than most others ever can.

How are you?

I can't imagine how difficult the past few years have been. Is there anything you need which you don't have, or anything which could have helped which you didn't get when you needed it?

I don't know why the program keeps your identities secret, and they should at least explain it to you. What you did was so powerful that I guess people can have all types of strong reactions.

You did something wonderful. I know there is a hole in your heart & I pray the other parts of you of can grow and thrive.

momknowsbest64657 karma

I've been ok until I read this (crying here) Thank you for understanding how hard this has been and writing such a passionate reply. The hole is there while it mostly feels like this

danakinskyrocker356 karma

Does the term "harvest" feel weird to you? Is there a better term for it like "donation" or "collection"?

momknowsbest64485 karma

I think it makes it seem less personal - it was hard to find an appropriate word

DazzleMeAlready62 karma

Having walked the same path when my sister died and donated her organs, I’m sending so much compassion and empathy to you and your family. My family also made contact with the recipients and it was the most gratifying experience of my life. I’m terribly sorry making contact has been so hard for you. Especially when both parties are willing. In my experience, the organization that facilitated my sister’s process was extremely cautious and conservative for good reasons. They told me they had come across some terrible and unethical requests from both the families of the recipient and donor. For example, donor families trying to guilt the recipient families into giving them money or gifts. Best of luck to you finding the recipient. May you continue to find peace and healing.

momknowsbest6436 karma

I understand. If it doesn't happen I still get comfort in the letters. Thank you

harpejjist1729 karma

If you do find someone as a result of this post, please be very careful. You have already put a lot of details out there, which means people who AREN'T the real recipient could try and pull one over on you.

momknowsbest64813 karma

How sad is that but thanks for the heads up

decentwriter729 karma

I’m so sorry for your family’s loss but amazed by the strength to make the choice to save someone’s life.

Would you want to talk to a journalist about it? If so, I’m in the middle of a long series about the organ transplant system and maybe we could tackle this head on together. Doors open if you ever would like to!

momknowsbest64447 karma

PM me. I am about to leave for Christmas dinner but yes !!

paganmonkeyboy627 karma

How are you doing ? 2nd holiday season without him - you holding up ok ?

Do you know how awesome you are ?

Do you know how lucky you are to be able to have made a difference in all those lives ?

when my buddy died it was a few days to get a team of experts out here to take him apart - I think I was told the organs went to 7 diff people, but its hard to remember the details sometimes.

Be Well :-)

momknowsbest64453 karma

I don't feel very awesome but having gotten the heart recipients latest letter knows he is well and happy and it gives me comfort. He is also someone's father, brother, son husband - and that matters to so many I don't know. Somehow I feel meeting him will help me continue to heal. I didn't save lives - my son died - he is really the hero - (or I like to think he is). Thank you.. yes it is a hard time of year.

Rintae81 karma

Of all my years of browsing reddit and hearing all kinds of heartbreaking stories, to the point of becoming indifferent, this one has hit me the hardest. All my thoughts go out to you and your family.

momknowsbest6472 karma

Thanks for feeling for me. <3

Forest-G-Nome76 karma

Sometimes you have a to take a hit to make other people happy.

Your son made a selfless sacrifice and is directly responsible for allowing others to live their lives the way they choose. However, the man who received your son's gift is not your son, and he cannot give you closure.

I know it's hard, I've been there, and it took me a long to realize that nothing in my life would change had my mother not given somebody else the gift of life, or whether or not I met the receiver. She would be in the ground (or rather an urn) and there would be two unhappy families in the world instead of just one. Take comfort in knowing that your son prevented 1 more sad family in the world, and that that family may go on to make many more happy families. The impact he's had on the world is now immeasurable.

We can't bring back heroes, but we can always tell their story and inspire others. Your son lives on through the legacy he has created, not through the man he gave life to.

momknowsbest6450 karma

I understand. Thank you. I don't think we ever get closure loosing a child but learn to cope with the grief. I appreciate your comment.

AmarosaLeela46 karma

I just want to let you know that I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I feel you. I lost my daughter this year and this was supposed to be my first Christmas with her. Everyone around me seems happy because of the holidays and I just can’t possibly stop thinking about her. I wish I could hug you.

momknowsbest6443 karma

I get it. Sitting in my room crying as I read this trying to get ready for dinner. Parents who have lost a child have a bond .(((((hugs))))))

Olealicat207 karma

My sister (29) died on January 25, 2016. She was an organ donor and we found out her heart went to a 43 yr. old female in North Carolina, her lungs went to a 51 yr. old female in Indiana suffering from pulmonary fibrosis which is an incurable disease. She is married, retired, has children ranging in age from 21-29 (at the time) and is very involved in her church, her liver went to a 44 yr. old female, one of her kidneys went to a 57 yr. old male in Michigan, her second kidney went to someone in NY.

I’m understand the want to hear your family member’s heart again. I hope this post gains the attention it needs to get you there. I haven’t met my sister’s recipients and it would make me feel closer to her if I did. I do find solace knows she’s all over the US and even if it’s just a piece of her, she’s still here.

Sending my love on this holiday!

Do you have any other family members who can help share the word on their social media accounts?

momknowsbest64102 karma

That's an amazing story. To be honest I'm not sure how they would feel although my father always cries when I show him the letters. My 82 year old Dad is ly rock. While he has lost his parents and siblings he says nothing is like loosing a grandson. My son was 23. I do find comfort in the letters. If that is all that happens so be It. Thank you.

Kayt1784174 karma

Thank you for making that decision during such a difficult and tragic time.

Have you tried posting your quest on Facebook? I feel like you could get more social sharability there to find the recipient of your son’s heart.

momknowsbest64257 karma

I deactivated my social media when my son died - I don't know how to be me anymore - and I tended to post a lot of my grief which I knew was hard for my friends to see. You're probably right but then people (or my friends)would still see I'm not "ok" which is what they all want to know. We'll see. Thank you

Shaysdays86 karma

Have you tried posting in /r/Toronto?

momknowsbest64132 karma

No - I was looking for a channel that had a big following that maybe people would want to ask me about the process. Maybe I should? I just want exposure - maybe this man's son is on reddit (or daughter) and maybe - with the information I'm giving - it will jog someone's memory. Thank you for the suggestion.

Shaysdays18 karma

I think it’s a good idea and it seems like a pretty big (and localized) sub. But thank you for doing an AMA.

Good luck.

momknowsbest6426 karma

Ok. I will try to figure that out. Thanks for the suggestion.

AintThatWill42 karma

As a double lung recipient, Thank you.

momknowsbest6433 karma

<3 from all of us donors, you are welcome!!

kaktussen20 karma

My heart breaks for you. I can't imagine what you're going through. Do you have a support network/family? My big sister died before I was born, and my mother tells how she and my dad lost almost all of their friends. I assume it's because people don't know how to react, but it's not very nice.

I really hope you get your Christmas wish fulfilled. ❤

momknowsbest6413 karma

Thank you!

LaquaciousMute12 karma

I did the same thing when life started taking more than I perceived it was giving. What i came full circle over was deleting my personal thoughts- even though I didn't want to "sadden" other people- what I actually ended up doing was setting my social settings to "Private" and I would continue to write what I felt, which later helped my shrink make sense of what exactly I was trying to get out. I felt like a "send" signal and noone in this galaxy was in tuned to "receive" what I felt. This hit home Ma

momknowsbest647 karma

I completely understand.

CopyX109 karma

I’m an icu nurse and someone who has helped with donations services for many years.

Respect if the recipient does not want to meet you, getting a new heart also does not subject them to an emotional relationship.

Your sons gift was an amazing one. But anonymity can sometimes be best for the patient.

momknowsbest6423 karma


royaj7793 karma

I have a stupid idea. In the next letter, try to send him a message by writing the letter so the first letter in each line spells your name vertically. Maybe he'll catch it and send you his name back?

momknowsbest6484 karma

Ok !! I'm sure someone will see. I will try in code. Not a stupid idea. Lol.

hoplias62 karma

Your son and you did a great thing. Giving others an opportunity to live.

Just a question: why won’t they allow the donor and recipient(s) to meet?

momknowsbest6489 karma

I don't know all the rules - the Gift of Life Network says I'd have to lobby my member of parliament to change the legislation. It's not the same in the States and I assumed I would be eventually able to meet him/her. I know the heart went to a 54 year old male. One kidney to a 77 year old grandma and another to a 37 year old male and the liver went to a 67 year old male. All we find out is that the transplant went well and in 6 months you can possibly write them. But we write the gift of life network and they pass it along to the recipient (All - old school) I framed the letters and had them at my son's memorial in September. I guess I was proud.

duffmannn10 karma

So hypotheticaly If these two hooked up. That would be one weird boner. I know. I am sorry. I'll show myself out.

momknowsbest6410 karma

Nahh yah made me laugh!!

ohmyclaude6 karma

Maybe consider contacting the news stations. I know around this time if year they like to do heartwarming stories and yours would do two things: encourage others to donate organs and perhaps help you find the organ recipients. Could work?

momknowsbest641 karma

Tomorrows adventure! I can't keep up with today's but I will. Any idea on who to email ? Editors? News?

joe_archer5 karma

Reddit will sort this, it's what we do.

Do your thing people, this awesome person deserves their wish at the very least.

momknowsbest646 karma

Love you stranger!!

FemmeDeLoria5 karma

There's a way to exchange info, at least in the US. My heart donor's mom applied for it, and I was sent a form to fill out. It basically was like "hey she would like to exchange info, you cool with that? If so, write the info you'd like us to send her."

Ask your transplant center (the people you sent your letter through) about it.

momknowsbest6415 karma

It's not the same in Canada. I have received and sent 3 letters now - and we can say we would love to meet but the organization does not let us. I know, I thought it was like in the us. You are a recipient?

jesuisletired4 karma

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm American and only know Canadians who now live in the States, otherwise I'd try to help. The ones I know are from Alberta and Montreal.

My brother died a few months ago, and this is the first holiday without him. It's tough. He was a donor and I believe he donated his heart, retinas, arm bones, and maybe others. I would also love to meet the recipients, but it's been only three months so I'm not sure if everything's been used yet.

Anyway, I wanted to share but condolences and let you know you aren't alone.

momknowsbest642 karma

So sorry for your loss as well. I hope you get to meet them too. Take care of you!

ultimatecaissie2 karma

Why in the world wouldn't they let recipients meet each other? That's so messed up beyond belief. It shouldn't even be legal ...

Im positive you'll find him ! People of good heart always gets good In return. I'm incredibly sorry for your loss but I'm positive your son would've agreed to your decision just as would I if I were in the same boat (family already knows I want my organs donated worst case scenario)

I don't believe in a higher power but if there is one. May he help you on your quest.

Much love and happy holidays to you and your family !

momknowsbest646 karma


kingOlimbs2 karma

Are these hand written letters or digital letters (emails)? As someone who likes to write letters to my gf with fountain pens, there is an ink by Noodler's ink called blue ghost that only shows up under black light. So if it is possible to send a physical letter that may be an option. If they are digital then best way I can think is write two letters first one just a normal letter and second one containing numbers that correspond letter characters from the previous letter to spell out and email address or something of the sort that could put you in contact. Might even have to write a third letter just to say hey check the last two again. Best of luck to you.

momknowsbest643 karma

Hand written. In old school cursive writing. !!

CrazyBadGamers2 karma

You are awesome and I hope you find the recipient.

Maybe casually name in a letter that you are on Reddit?

momknowsbest643 karma

Good idea. I owe him a letter. !!

SheepishLordKOs1 karma

This is crazy seeing my hometown on the front page. If there's anything you ever need help with, or need someone to talk to feel free to send me a message. I hope you find your son's heart. Out of curiosity, why are the letters so heavily screened?

momknowsbest641 karma

To avoid accidentally disclosing our identities. Front page of what ?