One year!!! Thank you for the gift of life.

Today is a big huge day in Addison’s life. It is one entire year since her heart transplant. One entire year since another family gave us a chance to be a family. One entire year we have been living our “new normal”.

We have experienced so many more incredible highs and devastating lows than we ever thought possible. When I look at Addison now, I cannot imagine life without her. She makes our world complete. She teaches us to be strong and to persevere. She doesn’t take “No” for an answer and refuses to give up. She makes us better.

While we have been able to enjoy 365 days of life with our princess, today is a grim date for the donor’s family. Our hearts go out to them. There is nothing we can say to adequately express our deepest gratitude for the precious gift they have given us. Before we left for Italy, Aaron and I sat down and finally finished our letter to the donor family. For two journalists, it was the toughest assignment ever.


Dear Donor Family,

With so much to say, why is it words fail us at times like this?  There are many ways to say thank you, but they are completely inadequate for the amazing gift you have given us. Our baby girl is about to turn 1. Eleven months ago in our darkest hour we couldn’t dare dream of a future longer than a few hours. Her first birthday seemed impossibly far away. It is only because of your courage that our daughter has a second chance at life.

 Our little girl, our only child, was born healthy and happy.  Just before she was three weeks old, she suddenly became very ill.  Her heart was in near total failure. She was put on life support, with transplant as the only option. When we got the call that would change her life and our lives forever we also knew it would change another family’s life forever.  While we know what it’s like to straddle the edge of life and death with your child, we cannot imagine how impossible it would be to have to say good-bye. We are so thankful you found the strength to say yes to organ donation. We are in awe of your selflessness. Without your gift, our miracle would not have been possible.

Today our daughter is doing incredibly well.  Her doctors are pleased with her progress.  It is now sometimes hard to remember just how sick she was.  She loves to laugh and giggle, especially when she is in motion – on the swings, Daddy tossing her in the air, bouncing up and down. She has always been a tenacious little girl and she is starting to get an independent streak…she insists on feeding herself with the spoon, wants to sit on a chair without anyone’s help. She enjoys reading books and playing games with the baby in the mirror. Her latest obsession is Cheerios.

We think about your family everyday. We know second chances aren’t given to everyone, so as a family we plan to live life to the fullest and make the most of each day we have together. We want to instill the same principles in our daughter as she grows up. Already, she has shown how determined she is to enjoy every moment of life. She has gone through so much in such a short amount of time – she seems wise beyond her years. We hope she will go on to honour the memory of your loved one by living her life with courage, determination and spirit.

 We came across a poem recently that resonated with us. In the absence of the right words to express what you and your family means to us, we hope it will offer a little comfort. 

 i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


– by E.E. Cummings

With all our love and gratitude,

Recipient’s Family

11 thoughts on “One year!!! Thank you for the gift of life.

  1. What a beautiful letter and poem…a fitting tribute to honour someone who gave the ultimate gift…the gift of life. ❤ I have no doubt Addison will go on to do amazing things in life…she has the right parents to inspire and mentor her to do just that.
    Addison will be fierce and a warrior in the true sense of those words…she will celebrate and embrace life … and BTW could she possibly be any cuter? I think not.

  2. Wow. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to write that letter. WHere do you begin……….. (It was difficult enough to READ it……..!!!) I cannot believe that a year ago today, we were all huddled in the Family Room at BC Children’s Hospital, praying, hoping, wishing, crying, worrying – feeling ALL THOSE EMOTIONS……….all for Addison…. We had so many mixed emotions when we heard the news about the heart that this family so graciously donated…and it was coming for Addison – our precious little Addison. I will always remember that feeling, the sight of her being wheeled away – so precariously with all her tubes and wires and everything all working so hard, along with her, to help her fight for her life.

    It’s a miracle… it really has been a miracle!!! Addison has grown into a gorgeous, sweet, cheeky little girl – I love seeing pictures and videos of her – it’s amazing to see how well she is growing and developing…all thanks to the donor family.

    Whoever you are…wherever you are…from Auntie Son-Son…

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for your gift of life for Addison!

    • It was never a thought in my mind that I would say yes for my daughter audrey to help another family! With all my love, Donor family mom…felicia sullenger

  3. Awe… Look at the teeth 🙂 And i’m so happy she is doing and looking well ❤ The donor letter.. i'm still in awe i hope that mine will be as great as your. Keep up the good work parents. and Addison you are angel ❤


    • Congratulations to all three of you for successfully completing your first year of transplant boot camp together!!! How sweet it is, each day together that has made up the last 365! Thank you for sharing your Amazing Addison with us!
      Dennis & Melissa, Grace & Calym

  4. Thank you for sharing Addison with all of us. God bless the donor family too. The poem says it perfectly. Happy Birthday (again) 🙂

  5. So Aaron, I’ve got to tell you this story. My first child Nicholas was born in Children’s Hospital at 30 weeks (Way premature!),and after two days, he started to lose what little weight he had. Nothing good was said, and we were offered no real hope but the doctors said they’d try, and they did. Months later we got him home… a very tiny sick little creature.
    Then he got on with life… slowly at fifst, and finally full-speed.
    Nicholas has since biked across Asia and almost all of South East Asia. He’s finishing a BA in Computer Science, and plans to move to Beijing sometime in the next year.
    I can remember holding him in one hand and crying…. the time flew for me… it will for you guys too.
    George Orr

  6. I love you Addison…I loved you ever since I knew of you, Happy Birthday!!! You will have many more to come I know! You are beautiful, just like my daughter….perfect match!!
    Donor Family Mom,

  7. Addison is a beautiful baby! Our family has thought of yours every day, wondering who you were and how your baby was doing. Thank you for sending that wonderful letter to Felicia and our family. We knew that as we said goodby to our precious baby girl, someone out there was able to have hope for theirs. It gave us peace and joy to know that Audrey was helping you (although we didn’t know who you were) have a lifetime to raise your baby.
    With Much Love to you and your family,
    Sharon (Donor mommy’s sister)

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