Lifestyle & Human Interest

Stranger Approaches Organ Donor’s Family at Baseball Game, Reveals He Received Their Late Brother's Heart


Donovan Bulger was a 21-year-old who had, as his sister said in her Facebook post, “a heart of pure gold.” He passed away in 2016, but not before making a life-changing decision to become an organ donor.

Though he never met the people who benefited from his generous decision, his family knows he’s been a game changer for several people.

April 28 was Transplant Awareness Day at the Busch Stadium St. Louis Cardinals game, so Savannah Roesch, Bulger’s sister, along with Bulger’s other siblings, decided to attend in his honor.

They wore bright shirts with pictures of Bulger that they had specially made to honor their brother — and those shirts proved to be the link that joined them to another game attendee.

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“We got tickets to the Cardinal’s game for the Donate Life day,” Roesch wrote on Facebook. “All that know me know that I do not like baseball! But we go to honor my baby brother!!”

“We got our group picture taken & as I’m giving my email address to the photographer to send the copy to me I hear a woman as ‘Are you Donovan’s family?’ I didn’t really think much of it. I thought that it was someone that worked with him or knew him from school.

“It was the recipient of Donovan Bulger ‘s heart!!!!!!!!!” Roesch wrote. “His daughter recognized the picture on our shirts & told her mom she thinks it’s Donovan’s family!!!!

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“Without hesitation her mom came up to us & asked because they were just as eager to know who we were just as we were eager to meet them!! We were all in COMPLETE SHOCK & AWE!!!”

The recipient was 65-year-old John Sueme, who’d received Bulger’s heart in 2016 after years of heart failure.

He told CNN that he wasn’t allowed to give the donor’s family his name, but he still made sure to reach out to them.

“I followed guidelines,” he said, “I can’t name myself, it was a general letter thanking them for this tremendous gift. Several months later I received a letter from Savannah and enclosed were two pictures of Donovan.”

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One of those pictures was the same picture on the family’s shirts. Without them, these two groups might have never made contact.

“It was the best $100 tickets we ever bought,” Katie Seper, Bulger’s sister, told CNN. “It was very surreal.”

The meet-up was perfect and emotional. As Roesch said, “We went to the game as six but left as nine. We are family.”

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