Families of Heart Donor, Transplant Recipient Meet for the First Time

Hana, a heart patient at Packard Children's, and her family meet the family of Leo, her heart donor.

Hana, a heart patient at Packard Children’s, and her family meet the family of Leo, her heart donor.

“Leo was so perfect,” says Kelly, Leo’s mother. “He loved to wrestle, and he loved to play with trucks. He loved ZZ Top. Anytime he would hear them he would just stop whatever he was doing, and start dancing, which was the cutest thing ever.”

At six months old, Leo developed a fever and later slumped over with a seizure. “I called 911 and they came and picked him up,” says Kelly. “They told us that Leo wasn’t going to make it. It was the worst day of our lives.”

After Kelly and Dave, Leo’s father, received the heartbreaking news, a representative from Donor Alliance paid them a visit. They learned that through the gift of organ donation, Leo had the opportunity to save eight lives.

“Part of him was still going to be living on, and it was going to give somebody else the opportunity to do the things that Leo was never going to get the opportunity to do,” says Kelly. “There was no thought. The both of us were just immediately like, ‘yes.’ Why would we take that from another family?”

A heart for Hana

In February 2015, six-month-old Hana developed a cough. “We took her to the pediatrician and the chest x-rays showed that she had an enlarged heart,” says her mother, Kathleen Yago. “She was in severe heart failure.”

Hana needed a new heart. After five months of waiting at Packard Children’s while relying on a ventricular device, known as the Berlin Heart, the Yago family finally received the call they were waiting for.

“I knew when I saw the phone ringing what it was going to be, I just knew it,” says Kathleen. “They had a heart for her.”

Meeting for the first time

“From the moment we found out that [Leo’s] heart was going to a child, I was like I want to meet them,” says Kelly, Leo’s mother. Now parents to a daughter, Aubrey, Leo’s family wanted to put a face to the name of the child who received her brother’s heart.

In May 2019, Leo’s family drove 1,200 miles from Colorado to Packard Children’s. They met Hana and her family for the first time. Video coverage from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health captures their heartwarming visit.


One Response to “Families of Heart Donor, Transplant Recipient Meet for the First Time”

  1. Annie Spedding

    This video told such a heart-warming story, and did it so beautifully, But my favorite part was when Hana said how much she loves Leo and that they are best friends.


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