A grieving father cycled 1,400 miles on Father’s Day to hear his deceased daughter’s heartbeat again – in another man’s chest.
Five months ago, Bill Conner suddenly lost his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, after she and her brother were both found facedown and unconscious in a pool over winter break in Cancun. Unfortunately, it was too late for Abbey, who had sustained extensive brain trauma. She was transferred to Fort Lauderdale, where she was put on life support until doctors could harvest her organs for transplant recipients.
As the Conner family said their heartbreaking final goodbyes to their daughter, a family in Lafayette, Louisiana was celebrating the miraculous life-saving gift that Abbey provided – a new heart for their 21-year-old son, Loumonth Jack, Jr.
Without Abbey’s heart, Jack Jr.’s prognosis was bleak after suffering a massive heart attack.
“He was given 10 days to live,” Abbey’s father said. “With Abbey and the way things went — he’s alive today.”
Connor told reporters that she donated four of her organs, allowing four males, between the ages of 20 to 60, a second chance to live. She also donated her eyes and other tissues.
Several months after his daughter’s passing, Conner notified the Florida donation center that handled Abbey’s organs to let them know he was going to ride on her behalf. Soon after, the organization sent letters to the recipients to see if they would like to meet their donor’s father.
The one person who immediately responded was Jack Jr., the heart recipient. He and Connor contacted each other several times before their arranged meeting on Father’s Day.
After making the 1,400-mile journey on his bicycle from his home in Madison, Wisconsin, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the two men walked toward each other with outstretched arms and embraced in a long hug.
The tearful moment was caught on camera when Conner pressed a stethoscope up to the young man’s chest to listen to his daughter’s heartbeat.
“Knowing he’s alive because of Abbey, Abbey is alive inside of him — it’s her heart having him stand up straight,” Conner said. “I was happy for him and his family, and at the same time, I got to reunite with my daughter.”
After leaving the meeting, Conner continued his journey to spread awareness about the importance of organ donation, sharing his daughter’s touching story along the way.
The family also recorded Jack Jr’s heart so Conner could listen to his daughter’s heartbeat as he continues his ride.
“She saved me and I can’t repay her. I wish I could but I can’t,” Jack told CBS affiliate WAFB in Baton Rouge. “All I can do is send my love to her family.”
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