When Lacey and Brandon lost their 2-year-old daughter, Alaiya, to bacterial meningitis, they were faced with an important question in the midst of their grief. Would they like to donate her organs?
The brave parents didn’t hesitate in giving permission for their beloved daughter’s organs to be given to other children who needed them. After all, they understood how hard it was to lose a child and were happy to give other families the chance of more time with their children.
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.
Alaiya’s heart had been immediately donated to a 10-month-old little boy called Mason. The small act had made a massive impact in another family’s life; as they dealt with their grief, they had given the gift of life to another child.
As the family came to terms with their devastating loss, Lacey found out that she was pregnant. Grieving during her pregnancy, and with her 3-year-old daughter sad for the loss of her sister, they struggled to cope with their emotions. But the family became closer as a result. They wondered if the family who received Alaiya’s heart donation was grateful.
Their thoughts were answered when a photographer reached out to them, saying that a very special family wanted to write them a letter. When Lacey discovered it was the mother of the heart recipient, she was ecstatic.
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 25 because Mason had a doctor appointment in Nashville and that was a halfway point for all of us. My husband and I had a roller coaster of emotions running through us.
When the two families finally met, it was a rollercoaster of emotions. They instantly felt a connection with little Mason and loved watching him run around like a regular, healthy child. Alaiya’s heart had gone to the right place. In the midst of their sorrow, they felt happiness that Alaiya still lived on in Mason.
Listening to Mason’s heartbeat, the family were able to hear their sweet daughter and sister’s heart once more. Even though she is gone, a part of her still lives on.
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.
Even though Alaiya’s family would do anything to have her back, they felt comfort in the fact that they could still see her in Mason. Angela, Mason’s mom, commented on how quickly Mason bonded with the family, almost as if he already knew them.
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.
Lacey and Brandon’s brave sacrifice means that Mason can finally live a life that at one time didn’t seem a possibility. In their loss, they have found strength, family and a close bond with another family who owe their happiness to them. What an incredible, heartwarming story of how organ donation can impact people’s lives in an amazing way.
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