US & Canada

The moment a US father hears his dead daughter's heartbeat

Bill Conner (right) hearing the heartbeat of his donor daughter Abbey inside the chest of Loumonth Jack (18 June 2017) Image copyright Mary Klemenok
Image caption Witnesses described the moment Mr Conner (right) heard his daughter's heartbeat using a stethoscope as incredibly poignant

Pictures have been released in the US of the moment a father heard his dead daughter's heart beating inside the chest of a man whose life she saved.

Bill Conner heard the heartbeat after cycling hundreds of miles from his home in Wisconsin to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He shed tears while using a stethoscope to hear the heart of his organ donor daughter beating inside Loumonth Jack's chest. He received it after her death.

Mr Jack was told he had just days to live after suffering a heart attack.

"Knowing he's alive because of [my daughter] Abbey, Abbey is alive inside of him - it's her heart having him stand up straight," Mr Conner told CBS News.

Image copyright Mary Klemenok
Image caption Mr Conner embraced Mr Jack after they met on father's day
Image copyright Mary Klemenok
Image caption Mr Conner became aware of the opportunity to meet the recipient of his daughter's heart while cycling from Wisconsin to Louisiana

"I was happy for him and his family, and at the same time, I got to reunite with my daughter."

Abbey and her brother were found unconscious in a swimming pool in January while on holiday in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

She was flown to Fort Lauderdale in Florida, where medics kept her on life support until doctors could use her organs for transplants. Her brother survived.

Mr Conner said that Abbey made the decision to be an organ donor when aged only 16.

"She registered. It's something that she knew a long time ago. Unfortunately, it came to fruition, but that's Abbey," he said.

"If you had her as a friend she always had your back, and for her to be helping people in need - that fits who she is."

Image copyright Go Fund Me
Image caption Abbey Conner died while on holiday in Mexico

Mr Conner decided to embark on his bike ride of more than 4,000km (2,600 miles) to raise awareness about organ donations and to visit the Broward Health Medical Center in Florida which was holding his daughter's body.

But in the course of his journey he became aware of the chance to meet Mr Jack on father's day when he was about 2,250km (1,400 miles) into his trip.

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The clinic looking after Abbey's body had sent letters to the four recipients of four of her organs asking them to meet him. The four included Mr Jack, whose health had been rapidly deteriorating before receiving her heart.

Image copyright Go Fund Me
Image caption Mr Conner (left) lost Abbey (centre) while his son Austin (right) was injured in the Mexico accident

"She saved me and I can't repay her. I wish I could but I can't," Mr Jack told WAFB in Baton Rouge. "All I can do is send my love to her family."

Witnesses have described the meeting of the pair as heartbreakingly poignant.

"It was unbelievable," Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency spokeswoman Mary Klemenok told the BBC.

"Abbey's willingness to donate her organs after passing away gave someone else a second chance at life.

"Bill was able to hear his daughter's heartbeat and record it so he can carry it with him for the rest of his life, which is absolutely beautiful."

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