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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — April kicks off National Donate Life Month, encouraging education and conversation around organ donation.
Donate Life Florida, in partnership with the University of Miami, hosted an event to recognize and honor donor families, transplant recipients and transplant community partners.
A south Florida family donated their son Trevin Reddick’s heart four years ago. The recipient is Donald Anaker, known as “Papa Don.”
The donor and recipient families met for the first time.
Reddick’s mother, Renee Jones, hugged “Papa Don” and said to him, “I love you so much.”
A 19-year-old Reddick was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting.
His mother made the agonizing decision to donate his organs not realizing the impact her choice would have.
Jones said, “I thought about Trevin and who he was and I knew without a doubt that Trevin would have said yes.”
About a year after receiving Trevin’s heart, Papa Don wrote 15 letters to the family and waited four years to meet them.
“It’s a whole new life and I have another family that’s part of my life,” said Anaker.
There are 121,000 people on a waiting list for a transplant and more than 5,600 reside in Florida.
Papa Don is one recipient with a second chance at life. He gifted Trevin’s mom a stethoscope, telling her she could listen to her son’s heart beat any time.
The families are now connected for life. Trevin’s mom says she finds comfort knowing her son’s heart is still beating. The families are now united through a cause they both believe in — championing for life and organ donation.
In support of organ donation and education, April 15th has been named National Donate Life Blue & Green Day in Miami-Dade County.