Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 22, Open-Hearted

In September, Steve Ferkau over at Revive Hope posted about Chicago heart transplant recipient, Melissa. She received her new heart in 2007 from a little girl named Chloe. Steve asked Melissa to write a letter to Chloe to express what she would tell Chloe if she were alive today.

Melissa was kind enough to allow us to share this amazing, touching letter as the next chapter of our Illinois Donor Diaries. Be sure to visit Revive Hope regularly to read more from Melissa and also check out her personal story on how she came to need a transplant.

Thanks Melissa!

– Scott


October 6, 2008

The beams of the hot Midwestern sun warm me from the inside in June, the month of my birth, my new life and the time in which my deepest questions were answered.

It was June 10, 2008 when I first heard from your family, nearly one year from the date of your passing. Your mom said she felt it was time to write me, although she had tried before and couldn’t get the words out, her emotions blocking the way. For some reason that I can’t recall now, I went home on my lunch break from work and naturally, I checked the mail. I never expected to hear from your family, following my initial letter to them. After all, they have faced the most difficult thing in life in losing you.

While your gift is my greatest joy, it’s at the expense of their deepest sorrow. Chloe, please know how proud they are of you. It seems that you had many friends and were surrounded by real love, a deep love that filled your heart. And today, you still have all of those things through me.

With shaky hands and a sense of peace, I pulled the letter from the linen envelope and out fell an Origami bird. Memories of my childhood bird watching days with my grammie and grandpa flashed through my mind. Though I was sure that this was by far, the most beautiful bird I had seen. It was made from delicate paper and the words inside were even more telling. Open-hearted. That’s how one of your friends, who made this bird for your mom described you. I imagined one hundred little birds from your many friends inside a box for her safekeeping. One day she’ll read them and smile at the thought of you. Like I do every day.

When I’m dancing at a party, playing golf, making brownies, hugging my husband or just checking the mail, you are there. Your heart is my new healthy gem that brought me from my deepest, sickest day to this moment. I’m more alive than I have ever been and forever I will be grateful for your gift, which represents the highest level of compassion for others. Chloe, I cherish and honor you for giving me back the years that I lost since heart disease plagued me when I was 14 years old. That’s how old you were, just 14 – forever young. No wonder you were a perfect match for me. Until we meet again because there is so much I want to tell you…

With admiration and love – your heart recipient,

Chicago, Ill.


2 Responses to Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 22, Open-Hearted

  1. Steve Ferkau says:

    Hey Scott!!!

    Melissa rocks… And actually — I asked Melissa to simply write to me about Chloe, and about herself… Melissa surprised me with her story in the form of a letter to Chloe… I cried when I read it, as I’m sure she did when she wrote it.

    I think Melissa and I share a lot of the same feelings about our donors, about organ donation, and a desire to help others by spreading the word. Reading her letter to Chloe, and the emails we exchanged, I felt she would make a good contributor on our team — so Ted and Jenn and I welcomed Melissa as a contributor at Revive Hope in September… We’re proud and honored to have her.

    She’s also going to take that beautiful, young heart 94 floors up the stairwells at the Hustle up the Hancock with me and my “Kari’s Klimbers” to honor Chloe and Kari and Jay and so many donors and donor families!!!

    You take care, Scott… Thanks for picking up Melissa’s letter to Chloe… It’s absolutely beautiful.



  2. Daily Magazines
    I am full of admiration and positive feelings. Very nice, clean and pleasant. All the best for the author.

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