When Shawn Zimmerman heard his late daughter’s heartbeat inside another person’s chest, he couldn’t help but be at peace knowing his little girl saved a life.
Losing a child is never easy, let alone two kids. However, this was the tragedy the Zimmerman family faced when their 14-year-old daughter Katelyn and her younger brother Dylan passed away.
Although their fate was to join their creator, Katelyn saved another person by giving him another chance to live through a heart transplant.
Katelyn and Dylan were together biking near their home in Florida when a drunk driver hit them, causing severe injuries that cost their lives.
The teen had brain trauma and passed away on the same day. Her brother, however, nearly survived. He underwent four surgeries for his critical injuries but followed Katelyn after a month.
Interestingly, Katelyn told her grandmother something important just three hours before the accident — she wanted to be an organ donor.
“[…] I told her that I was proud of her and I’m an organ donor and her great grandfather was. Three hours later, she was gone,” Charlene Sweigart said. “That was the last thing she said to me, and I want to see her wish come true,” the grandmother added.
Although heartbroken and in pain, the Zimmermans agreed to donate Katelyn’s organs. The boy Katelyn saved was Albert “Alji” Jefferies from North Carolina.
It was then that Katelyn’s family heard her heartbeat again inside the body of a different person.
Jefferies was only four months old when diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. He lived a life with restrictions due to his enlarged heart, and at the age of 12, experienced heart failure.
Although doctors saved his life, he found himself facing the same fate in the hospital by the end of 2015. At that time, a heart transplant was the best option to save his life.
When all hope seemed lost, it was discovered that a heart matched Jefferies — it was Katelyn’s. The transplant was a success, and when Sweigart heard the story, she messaged Jefferies’ mother, Tina Turner.
In July 2016, Jefferies met the family of the girl who saved his life. It was then that Katelyn’s family heard her heartbeat again inside the body of a different person. “It put us at peace knowing that Katelyn’s heart is still beating even though it’s not in her,” Shawn, Katelyn’s father, said.
Similarly, the recipient was grateful to the Zimmermans for saving his life. “Thank you for the gift of being able to see more in life,” Jefferies wrote to the Zimmermans. “Thank you for letting me have a second chance. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being my miracle.”
A similar story previously happened when Bill Conner heard his late daughter’s heartbeat inside another person’s chest, and it made him happy like Shawn.