LINCOLN (CBS13) – Facing the most painful grief imaginable after her 14-year-old daughter’s suicide, Lauren Santoro of Lincoln decided Isabel could give life to others.
Now more than two years later, she met the Oregon woman who received her daughter’s heart.
“We were always so proud of Isabel during the 14 years she was with us on earth, and even more proud now,” Lauren said through tears.
Lauren had no idea her daughter, a freshman at Whitney High in Rocklin, was being bullied. Isabel turned a gun on herself.
“As we said our last goodbyes to Isabel, we knew that there were other families praying for a miracle that Isabel would soon deliver,” she recalled.
Her heart, kidneys, liver and skin went to save nine strangers.
“I’m so grateful to have that little girl’s heart,” said Vicky, who received Isabel’s heart
About the same time, Isabel was struggling, Vicky was given a week to live in 2016 with her own bad heart. Then she got the news of a second chance.
“And all I could think of was and I cried over was someone lost their life and that’s why I get to live,” Vicky recalled.
Isabel’s heart was raced from California to Oregon and transplanted into Vicky. Two years later, Vicky and Lauren are meeting for the first time.
“My goal in life is just to make her as happy and proud of me as possible,” Vicky said.
She says she plans to speak out against bullying. In a touching moment, a stethoscope was held to Vicky’s chest and Lauren heard Isabel’s heartbeat for the first time in two years.
“Knowing the difference she has made in the lives of others, our love for Isabel and her capacity for love are her legacy,” Lauren said.
Donate Life California says 120,000 Americans are currently waiting for an organ transplant. You can donate by selecting yes when you renew your driver’s license or through www.donatelifecalifornia.org.