The Short of It
A Texas teen gets her birthday wish to hear her deceased brother's heart beat in the girl who received it.
It is perhaps the last connection Monique has to her brother Mikey, who died 10 years ago in a car crash when he was only 5 years old. At her recent quinceanera, she got to hear his heart beat inside the young girl, who received the donated organ. It was her only birthday wish.
A beating heart has always had a significance in their family, as mom Melissa Hernandez explained to ABC News: "My son and I had a thing. I'd put his hand on my heart and my hand on his. I'd say to him, 'Do you feel that boom boom? Every time you get scared and you miss dad or you miss mom, put your hand on your heart and rub it because mommy rubs her heart all day thinking of you.'"
Oh, wow. My heart hurts. How beautiful.
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But the moment when Melissa and Monique heard Mikey's heart beat again after his death was actually a long time in the making. It was a decade after he passed away that the Hernandez family connected with the Kansas girl who received Mikey's heart and her mom, Cheryl Reeves. Aubrey, now 18, had actually gone through two hearts before getting Mikey's when she was 8 years old, and she has been healthy ever since.
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"After hearing [Aubrey's] story, I think we made the right decision [to donate Mikey's heart]," Melissa said.
When Monique embraced Aubrey, Melissa says, "She felt happy and sad. All she ever wanted was to hear her brother's heart beating again, and she got that gift. ... We both did. She said there was no other gift that we could've given her that was so special, so wonderful."
Adds Cheryl, "Monique just embraced Aubrey, and I think she whispered 'Don't let go.' Melissa put her arms around both of them, and I put my arms around Melissa. It was surreal and such a beautiful moment."
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What a deeply touching, although bittersweet, story. It reminds us that something beautiful can come out of even the most unthinkable tragedies.