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Teen Graduates With Young Man's Heart Beating In Her Chest

Ixell Miguel and organ donor's mother, Susie Kotara

Organ donation never ceases to amaze me. It simply staggers my mind that you can take a lung, a kidney, the cornea of an eyeball, a heart and give it to another person, effectively giving them the gift of life.

“The gift of life” is something we hear a lot as it’s the organ donation slogan but stop and think about what that really means. It’s truly astounding what teams of doctors – and anyone who donates organs – are able to do.

Last week I did a little bit of freelance work for the local Fox affiliate. I wrote packages that anchors voiced, and one of them was a piece on a teen who was able to graduate this week because of the generous donation of a very sweet family a decade ago. The story is heartbreaking, but she is such an accomplished, articulate young woman it almost makes up for the little boy who died so she could live.

As she graduated in a Salt Lake City suburb, 18-year-old Ixel Miguel was cheered on by not one, but two families as the family of the boy’s heart beating in her chest traveled from Texas to attend.

When Miguel was 8-years-old, she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which means her heart was too large for her body and wasn’t pumping enough blood for her to live.

At the same time, doctors in Texas discovered a tumor in little Joseph Anthony’s brain They tried to operate, but he hemorrhaged. Although doctors were able to stop the bleeding the boy had a stroke while in the recovery room.  Anthony had no brain activity so his family agreed to donate all his organs.  Everything.  Corneas, kidneys, bone marrow, even bones.  His sister, Amy Kotara, estimates ten lives were saved because of the donation.  “Knowing that at least ten lives were saved is just such a blessing to know we had a part in that and in making that decision gave life to other people.”

And his heart?  That went to Ixel Miguel.

The Kotaras have been in contact with Ixel for years. They wanted to see her receive her high school diploma with their Joseph Anthony’s heart beating strongly in her chest.

“Yesterday was just so thrilling because it’s the blessing that comes from the tragedy when you give the gift of live,” said Susie Kotara, Anthony’s mother.

Are you an organ donor?  God forbid something happened to your child, but if it did, would you donate the organs?  I think it would be hard to wrap my brain around, but ultimately something I would do.  Can you imagine watching someone graduate with you child’s heart beating in their chest?  The whole thing just boggles my mind.

Below is a link to the actual story I wrote for Fox.  This sweetheart, Ixel, was just adorable and grateful and so lovely.  I watched the raw tape to write the story and she teared up several times and had to start her sentences over.

Organ recipient graduates, cheered on by family of donor.

Image: The Salt Lake Tribune

Read about celeb Katherine Heigl’s work on Organ Donation!

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