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Try Not To Cry: On Mother’s Day, Iowa Woman Meets Transplant Patient Who Received Her Late Son’s Heart

15 May 2017, 9:12 am EDT By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
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Teenager dances for joy after successful heart transplant
A year after the heart transplant, organ donation recipient Flint wrote Hutt, the late organ donor's mother, a letter. From there, the two families have been in communication, with Hutt telling Flint about her son’s likes and interests.  ( Christopher Furlong | Getty Images )

On Mother’s Day, two strangers finally meet after years of anticipation: Anna Hutt, a mother who lost her teenage son in 2014, and Gary Flint, the man who had a second lease in life thanks to her son’s heart.

Accompanied by his wife, children, and grandchildren, Flint of Lexington waited at the lobby of the Durham Outpatient Center at Nebraska Medicine Sunday afternoon to meet Hutt of Clarinda, Iowa. Their arms locked in an embrace during their first ever encounter.

Death And Rebirth

It was still all clear for Hutt: On May 21 three years ago, her son Payton died in a deadly dirt biking accident near their home. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and had severe head trauma when he was hit by a van.

Payton registered as an organ donor some weeks before the accident. Hutt even tried to talk the teenager out of it.

“I told him no. I said ‘No, I don’t think you’re going to do that,’ and he was like ‘No, mom. I want to be a donor,” Hutt recalled, adding that her son changed her whole outlook on organ donation.

Flint was in a truly bad shape back then. As a 64-year-old, he was given only months to live amid a worsening heart condition. Back in 2007, the man was diagnosed with heart enlargement or nonischemic cardiomyopathy.

Cardiologist Dr. Ronald Zolty told WOWT 6 News that Flint’s days were actually numbered and that he wouldn’t have survived another two or three months without the transplant.

Getting Connected

Flint, six days after being listed for his awaited transplant, learned of the new opportunity but had no idea it was from Payton. He likened his operation to being “born again.”

A year after the transplant, Flint along with his family wrote Hutt a letter, which the hospital forwarded to its recipient. From there, the two families have been in communication, with the mother telling the transplant recipient about her son’s likes and interests.

Payton lives through Flint through their shared interests: cars and motorcycles, music, and being a prankster, to name a few.

Hutt, on the other hand, felt her son taught her the important lesson that it will be such a “great gift” for Flint and his family. She could not “think of a better man” to receive her son’s heart, Hutt added.

On Sunday, May 14, after years of communicating, the two met for the first time. Flint greeted the pining mother with flowers on her special day. There are hardly any words to describe her emotions, Hutt said.

Perhaps the most significant part of it: listening to her son’s heartbeat inside Flint’s chest using a stethoscope and receiving from Flint a teddy bear that plays back a recording of Payton’s heartbeat.

They intend to stay in touch and wish love and happiness for each other and their families.

Organ Donation In Focus

In the United States, it’s been estimated that 18 people die each day while waiting for an organ.

An individual donor can be a hero to up to eight individuals, as well as enhance more lives via eye and tissue donation.

In January last year, Drew Lienemann of Iowa, an honor student and achiever in his local high school, committed suicide. His organs and tissues, however, managed to help 194 people. His skin, for instance, assisted nine post-mastectomy breast reconstruction surgeries.

A precious baby was also born to Oklahoma couple Keri and Royce Young, but instead of terminating the pregnancy upon knowledge of the baby’s terminally ill condition, the couple decided to proceed with giving birth to her to donate her organs.

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