According to the saying, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die,” Bill Conner had the opportunity to literally meet his deceased daughter’s beating heart, five months after her death.
The girl, Abbey visited a resort in Cancun during a winter break with her brother, both of them were discovered face down in a pool at the resort and unconscious. The brother somehow survived the ordeal, but nothing could be done for Abbey, who suffered a permanent injury to her brain.
Having registered as an organ donor at age 16 when she had her license, she was kept on life support and flown to a Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale for her organs to be harvested for donation. Her decision to become an organ donor is not a strange one to the Conners, since they often discuss it in the family, according to Bill.
Five months after the unfortunate incident in January, Bill decided to honor the memories of his late 20-year-old daughter. He picked an iconic day to begin a bike ride across the country to pay homage to his daughter’s memories; May 22, a day after the surviving son, Austin, graduated from college.
On this day, Mr. Conner rode 2,600 miles, from his home in Madison, Wisconsin, to visit the Broward Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Abbey’s organs were harvested and donated five months earlier in January.
In an interview, he gave some insights into his journey and exactly the kind of person his daughter was. Conner stated that Abbey would have wanted exactly what he embarked on. He further stressed that she registered herself for the donation. He said, being a donor is something that she knew for a long time but unfortunately came to a realization. “If she’s your friend, she would always have your back, helping people is what fits who she is.”
As the Conners gave up on the fight for Abbey’s life, Loumonth Jack, Jr. was given a new lease of life after being told his days are numbered. Jack was at the time, hospitalized in another state south after he endured a heart attack and was diagnosed with a rapidly failing heart.
The 21-year-old resident of Lafayette, Louisiana, required a miracle, and his prayers were answered through Abbey.
Then, Jack was had ten days according to the doctors to live, but with Abbey’s heart and he’s able to walk around today.
Four organs from Abbey were donated within this period to give life to four men, according to her father. It was gathered that her eyes and tissues were also donated at the Medical center.
Conner sent a letter to the donation Center in Florida that took care of Abbey’s organs, to inform them of his decision to ride across the country in honor of his daughter. The group then forwarded a letter to the recipients of the organs, requesting if they could meet with the donor’s father.
Loumonth Jack, at the time, was the only beneficiary to show interest in meeting with Bill. “Jack is the only recipient to respond,” Conner said.
After various correspondences between them, they arranged to meet on Father’s day, 1440 miles into Bill’s trip.
When they met at Baton’s ridge that Sunday afternoon, Bill felt like he already knew Jack. He described Jack as a humble, courteous and respectful kid, with an old soul. It was reported that they met one another enthusiastically with arms outstretched.
Bill told reporters present on the day that he knows his daughter lives on inside Jack, he expressed his happiness for the Loumonths and for his chance to once again reunite with his daughter.
They were both driven to tears when Bill listened for the first time to his daughter’s beating heart; Jack had brought a stethoscope which was used after they shared a lasting hug.
In his statement to the press, Jack said she saved him and can’t possibly repay the debt. He concluded, “All I can do is send my love to her family.”
A recording of Abbey’s beating heart, now Jack’s, was provided for Bill to listen to on his 2400 mile long journey across the country. He undertook the extraordinary journey to sensitize the public on the importance of donating organs while honoring his daughter’s memories by sharing her story.
Bill and his daughter’s story has the power to pull a significant percentage of the population around the world to consider organ donation as a good way to save lives and serve humanity. Already, the story has been shared by thousands of social media users which would definitely help raise the sort of awareness Bill hopes to raise with his ride across the country.
He has lost a daughter but he is standing up in her honor to help raise funds for this purpose. He has started a GoFundMe to raise awareness to organ donation, with the proceeds of the program available to the Donate Life America (DLA).