ROSEVILLE (CBS13) – The recipient of a heart was at a local hospital spreading Valentine’s Day cheer with the family of the donor.
At Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, Brittany Campbell gave out Valentine’s Day cards alongside 23-year-old Gabby Preap, a young woman who’s almost like a sister.
“It’s comforting knowing I have Gabby in my life,” said Brittany.
Less than two years ago, at the age of 19, her older sister, Cassie, died from an accidental overdose of prescription medicine.
“It stirs up awful memories, yet we have this wonderful girl here who’s got the gift of life from our daughter,” mother Ave said.
Gabby was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, heart muscle disease, and almost died of heart failure after a vicious virus attack. Fortunately for her, a donor came along and Gabby’s heart was replaced with Cassie’s.
“Even before I knew who my donor was, every night I would thank whoever gave me this heart,” a teary-eyed Gabby said.
Thursday, Gabby was walking, talking and feeling love as she handed out thank you Valentine’s Day cards at Kaiser. And, it was all because Cassie was a donor.
“(I) just wanting them to one day get to know me, to feel comfort their daughter is still alive,” Gabby said of wanting to meet her donor’s family.
Their story aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network, inspiring Oprah’s own producer to become a donor. Then, unexpectedly, eight months later that producer would die, but was able to save many lives by being a donor.
“Gives me a lot of comfort to know Cassie saved an amazing life,” said Michelle Campbell.
Now, as one family is pieced together, they thank the hospital staff for all their help.
“This has been the most overwhelming moment of my entire career, and this has been a long career,” said one nurse.
Among the cameras was a picture-perfect showing of gratitude for a girl who gave the greatest of gifts.
There are nearly 10 million registered donors in California, and the Campbell family hopes their story encourages others to become donors.