It was a heartwarming and tearful meeting when strangers met for the first time at the St. Lucie County Tax Collector’s Office in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Brad and Sharon Schwabenbauer embraced 24-year-old heart donor recipient Adelia Harris in this emotional meeting.
Harris became ill after a healthy childhood and discovered that she needed a heart transplant. “My heart was that of a 98-year-old woman about to die,” said Harris.
Harris’ new heart came from a special man. Brad and Sharon’s son Joshua signed up to be an organ donor shortly before he passed away.
Joshua, a firefighter, died in an accident unrelated to work. But because of his generosity, other people were able to benefit from what would have otherwise been merely a tragic loss.
He’d spent his life saving people, and in his death he’d save more. Now his family would hear his heart beating again through Harris.
Harris was forever grateful for Joshua’s gift. She planned to go on new adventures and do things that she was unable to do before her transplant.
There would always be a special connection between Harris and the Schwabenbauer family. The family took turns with the stethoscope as they listened to Joshua’s heart beating once again.
Sharon is comforted by the encounter. As a mother, she can understand the joy in one daughter’s life being saved through her son.
Harris referred to Joshua not as her donor but as her “giver of life” because she believed that he had given her a second chance at living.
“To my giver of life family, I just like to say thank you for this wonderful experience and I’ll take care of Joshua, just as he’s taken care of me.” said Harris.
Four other people were given a second chance at life through Joshua’s donation. Even in death, Joshua is a hero to people he never even knew.
“If he didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be here now, none of this would have happened,” said Brad of his son.
Not only did Joshua give the gift of a heart but he also brought two families together with a new journey to follow.
Joshua’s family was overwhelmed by tears of joy. They were always proud of their son for his bravery and the work that he did.
Now there is something new that brings them pride and solace. And a piece of their son lives on.
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