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One Toddler Saves Another with Heart Transplant

The Short of It

A Tennessee family's decison to donate their 2-year-old's heart gives a Chicago toddler a new chance at life.

The Lowdown

Two-year-old William Heard of Brentwood, Tenn., was brought to a children's hospital in December when he was choking on a piece of chicken. The food was dislodged, but nevertheless, he died two days later after being placed on life support. His parents, Jamie and Daniel, decided to donate his organs.

"He was just the greatest kid," mom Jamie told ABC News. "He loved to love. It's quiet in our house now. He just filled the room with such a joy that's making it difficult to be at home."

But a bright spot appeared when they heard their son's heart had traveled 400 miles away to save the life of a toddler girl in Chicago. Ava Martin, 18 months old, was born with congential heart defects and had been diagnosed with heart failure in August. After waiting 118 days, Ava's family got the call that their daughter would be receiving a new heart from William.

"The thought of our son being able to help someone else have a new chance at life gave us a feeling of hope that something good was going to come out of this tragic situation," Jamie wrote on her Facebook page. "We didn't want to let go of our boy that morning but we prayed that he would be able to give life to another child. Little did we know that hundreds of strangers were praying for our family as a little girl in Chicago was desperately waiting for a new heart."

The Upshot

The transplant took place last month and was a success. Ava has been released from the hospital and will continue to receive follow-up care.

"[My husband] Brian and I are very thankful for the gift that they gave to our daughter; they did a very selfless thing by giving life to another child, even in their darkest times," Ava's mom Aime Martin told ABC News. "We are just in awe of their strength...there are not a whole lot of words to express our gratitude towards them."

The two families plan to meet when Ava is fully recovered.

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