A grieving Midwestern father stopped in Louisiana this month to hear his deceased daughter's heart beat inside a donor recipient during his cycling trip from Wisconsin to Florida as part of an effort to increase funding for organ donation.
Bill Conner of Madison, Wisconsin, decided to go on the 2,000-mile trek after his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, died while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico, in January.
"On her winter break with her brother ... they both were found unconscious, face down in chest deep water in the resort's pool," Conner wrote on his GoFundMe page of the Florida accident. "Unfortunately, Abigail didn’t make it even after medical intervention."
His son survived.
Conner is biking to Ft. Lauderdale’s Broward Health Medical Center which, he said, "took exceptional care of my daughter and prepared her to donate her organs."
"The loss of my daughter's life is obviously beyond tragic. However, it has allowed four males from the ages of 20-60 to live because Abigail was an organ donor," Conner wrote. "Abigail’s eyes and tissues were also used which means even more people are living better lives with her donations."
Of her harvested organs, Abbey's heart was donated to Loumonth Jack Jr., a 21-year-old Louisiana man who had suffered a heart attack and desperately needed a transplant.
In the video shared by Donate Life Louisiana, after a loving embrace between the two men, Jack hands Conner a stethoscope. Conner puts the stethoscope earpieces in as Jack slowly unbuttons his shirt so Conner can listen to his heartbeat.
As Conner listens to what was once his daughter's heartbeat on Father’s Day, he places his hand on Jack's shoulder, smiles and then quietly sobs.
Jack puts his hand on Conner's shoulder, too, as if to comfort him.
"Well, it's working," Conner jokes as he removed the stethoscope and wipes his tears on his sleeve.
So far, Conner has raised more than $19,000 for his cause.