Family of Virginia teen who donated organs meet heart transplant recipient

RICHMOND, Va. — It was a heartfelt meeting at a Virginia airport.

The family of Dakota Reid had an emotional moment with Robert O’Connor on Thursday at Richmond International Airport, WRIC reported.

Reid, 16, was killed in a multi-vehicle crash in Dinwiddie County in January 2019. The teen’s organs helped save several lives, including O’Connor’s. The Massachusetts man needed a heart. After receiving a transplant, he sent the Reid family a teddy bear that had a recording of Dakota Reid’s heartbeat -- now O’Connor’s.

O’Conner took that recording, went to a Build-A-Bear Workshop and had the recording inserted inside the bear, sending it in February to Dakota Reid’s parents, Stephanie Reid and John Reid. The bear’s shirt had the phrase “Best Dad Ever,” CBS News reported.

Thursday night, the Reids got to hear the heartbeat again as they embraced O’Connor at the airport, WRIC reported.

John Reid and O’Connor shared a hug.

“Thank you,” John Reid said.

“No, thank you,” O’Connor responded.

O’Connor, who is from South Hadley, Massachusetts, suffered from cardiomyopathy, WWLP reported. He told WRIC he spent two months praying for a new heart.

“Unfortunately, John lost a son but I got my life back,” O’Connor told the television station outside the airport. “Never thought I was gonna make it.”

John Reid cried when he heard his son’s heartbeat in the stuffed teddy bear. His wife recorded her husband’s emotional reaction.

On Thursday John Reid was emotional again.

“There’s two things you never forget in life. It’s the very first heartbeat before he’s born and his last,” John Reid told WRIC on Thursday. “And I’m blessed I can hear it over and over and over.”

Dakota Reid’s organ donations also helped other people. His corneas helped a man to see for the first time, WRIC reported earlier this year. Another man received the teen’s kidney and pancreas, CBS News reported.

The Reids and O’Connors were strangers nearly two years ago, but now they said they will be lifelong friends.

“We are blood now! We are family,” John Reid told CBS News in February.

On Thursday, John Reid said that bond is sure to deepen.

“It’s amazing, I can’t wait to get to know him, you know,” John Reid told WRIC.

The families will be doing that over the next few days, the television station reported.

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