United by one heart: Family of organ donor meets heart recipient

United by one heart: Family of organ donor meets heart recipient

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - You only get one chance at life. That is, unless you’re really lucky and someone donates an organ to you.

A man, now alive because of another man’s gift. Two families, united by one heart.

When Timothy Hooks-Coe died in Sept. 2018, he made sure someone else would live. That’s just the type of heart Timothy had, according to his mom Melinda Sutton.

“Very loving and caring. Very outgoing. He loved life,” said Sutton.

Four years ago, Timothy told those around him he felt it in his spirit to become an organ donor. The plan was to give his uncle a kidney, but the two were not a match. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Timothy ended up in the hospital and though he never ended up seeing how his life-saving decision impacted a family, his mom captured the incredible moment on video for the family to always know and remember. Timothy’s heart, leaving a hospital by ambulance in Concord.

“As a mom, you want to know that part of your child is still alive,” said Sutton.

What she didn’t know at the time, was her son’s heart was on the way to Charlotte. A man named Jeff Moore was waiting. After battling a rare heart condition, he was in bad shape, and next up on the waiting list for a strong heart. Timothy’s fit the bill.

After spending 12 days on the wait list, Moore got a match. He received his heart transplant from Atrium Health’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.

“That’s why we’re here. One of his last gifts was his organs to someone else, to help someone else,” said Sutton.

Moore and Sutton became pen pals after Jeff’s surgery. Monday night, after 14 long months, Timothy’s and Jeff’s families met for the first time.

“He gives me life hour by hour and beat by beat. I don’t know how this is supposed to go,” said Moore.

“I don’t either,” Sutton added.

LifeShare Carolinas made the donor meeting and letters possible, working to connect Jeff and Timothy’s family.

Even though Timothy is not physically here anymore somehow, someway he sometimes comes alive through Moore. Funny enough, Moore’s wife Sheila says she noticed a difference in her husband’s taste right after the transplant.

“We have been married for over 30 years. He never was really a red wine drinker, and spaghetti," said Sheila.

Before receiving Timothy’s organ, Moore says whenever he went to the beach with his family, he’d struggle just to take 10 steps in the sand. Now, he feels great and says there aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe his gratitude.

“They’re happy days now and I still carry sadness, no pun intended, in my heart,” said Moore.

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