I’m often amazed at the incredible journey we are on with Addison. She has shown us so much, introduced us to many wonderful people, and given us experiences we could have never imagined. Well this past weekend was a beautiful reminder of everything we have gained because of our daughter. We got to meet Felicia, the generous mom who gave us a second chance at life with Addison.
I wasn’t sure what to expect because how can we ever convey our deepest gratitude for what she’s done? I was prepared for a heartbreaking emotional experience but it was really more joyous than anything. Felicia and I have been corresponding via Facebook and email for the past year and a half, so when we finally got to see each other in person (after a missed flight, delayed second flight, hour lineup for the rental car, and bumper to bumper traffic – would have been faster for us to drive to California!), it was as if we were old friends meeting again.
Felicia blew me away with her unwavering belief that her sweet daughter Audrey had been born for the sole reason to save others’ lives. In the face of a parent’s most devastating nightmare, she did not hesitate when asked if she would consider donating her daughter’s organs. What’s even more incredible? She had never consciously thought much about organ donation but she knew instantly, even amidst her own grief, this was the right thing to do.
I told her how at the same time she was coming to terms with Audrey’s prognosis, we were wrestling with the idea that the only way our daughter would live is through the death of another baby. It was a struggle without knowing anything about the donor and family, and now that we know the whole story, it’s not easier, but we are able to accept the reality of death…and life.
Pamela, Felicia’s mom, talked about how it has given them incredible joy to see Addison growing up. It has helped ease their pain to know two other people have been able to thrive because of their loss. About a month after Audrey’s death, they received a letter from transplant officials telling them Audrey’s heart had gone to a baby in Canada and the kidneys to a woman in California (who had been on dialysis for six years). They were able to connect with Hydee, the kidney recipient fairly quickly because the privacy laws are very different in the US. They always wondered how the baby was doing. A year later, Felicia googled “baby heart transplant Canada” on the internet and found us.
There were so many wonderful moments. We got to meet Felicia’s husband Lee and their adorable one-year old daughter Olivia. Felicia’s parents also drove down from Reno to meet us, along with her sister and nephew, and a good family friend of theirs. We also got to meet Hydee. My parents came too, and we were all part of Team Audrey at the California Transplant Donor Network Donate Life walk in Santa Clara. It was an honour to walk with all our extended McYong family and pay tribute to the brave little girl who will always be a part of Addison. When I stop and think about how our families and communities are forever entwined, it takes my breath away. Addison and Audrey have done more in their young lives than many of us accomplish with decades.
Elaine, Aaron and Addison