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SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (Video: WRIC, WWLP via CNN) —
A Massachusetts man who received a heart transplant from a 16-year-old donor has recorded the sound of that heartbeat and put it in a stuffed bear for his donor’s parents.
Robert O’Connor told WWLP that for 10 years, he had a heart condition called cardiomyopathy, which was controlled by medication, until he was flown to Tufts Medical Center in Boston and placed on life support to keep his heart pumping.
“It was basically until I get a heart,” he said.
O’Connor said he was bedridden for several weeks until he received the news that he was getting a heart.
“I got the heart,” he said. “I got my life back.”
O’Connor’s new heart came from Dakota Reid, a 16-year-old from Virginia who died in an accident.
After connecting with Reid’s family, O’Connor said he wanted to do something special for them and made the bear, which has the heartbeat in it.
“We talked about meeting. Someday in the future, we will meet so they could hear their heart, and I said, ‘Hopefully this will help until we can meet,'” he said.
O’Connor said it’s the least he can do to show his appreciation for Reid’s heart, which allowed him to have a fresh start.
“Just being able to get outside, walk, do anything,” he said. “Go swimming with my granddaughter in my pool. Just getting back to life.”