When Lukas Clark was brutally mistreated by a babysitter, he was only 7 months old. After spending days lying in the hospital, his mother, Heather Clark, was informed that her son had a very small chance of surviving.
The Rancho Cucamonga, California, mother, 25, had been questioned numerous times about organ donation, but she had delayed responding until she had had time to consider the situation in its entirety.
Lukas's mother bravely decided to give her son's organs in the midst of her anguish. She finally had the chance to hear his heartbeat three years later, this time via the chest of a grateful little 4-year-old.
I didn't want another mother or family to experience what I was about to — or feel what I was about to feel.
Up until now, three different people have been rescued by Lukas' organs.
In 2013, Clark wrote a letter that was meant to be read by the person who would be receiving his organs. She collaborated with One Legacy in the hopes of establishing a relationship with the recipient of Lukas' heart.
Jordan Drake was that patient. Jordan and her mother Esther Gonzalez, 34, who reside in Chandler, Arizona, contacted Clark over Facebook in 2013 after learning she had been attempting to get in touch with them. However, the mail was automatically swept into another folder and ignored for two years.
Jordan was identified as having the congenital cardiac disease as a baby. Gonzalez was informed by doctors at Phoenix Children's Hospital that her daughter, who was only three months old at the time, would require surgery to replace defective valves in a few years.
However, soon after, when Jordan was 4 1/2 months old, medical professionals decided that her condition was severe and they would no longer be able to postpone the surgery.
Jordan underwent surgery at the five-month milestone. Doctors decided to introduce a mechanical valve as opposed to fixing damaged ones.
Jordan was put on blood thinners, which proved to be difficult given the normal weight changes and food requirements that a toddler undergoes. With that came a lot of upkeep and instability.
The first 15 months of Jordan's life were spent in this manner. At that moment, they came to the conclusion that her only chance of surviving was a heart transplant.
"Blood thinners ended up being more of a harm than help," Gonzalez told TODAY. "She suffered stomach bleeds, brain bleeds, seizures, and a stroke. She had to have brain surgery — doctors opened up her head to release the pressure of the blood."
Jordan's family was informed by phone on June 22, 2013, that medical professionals could have located a heart that would work as a match for her transplant. The 18-month-old was having surgery the next day.
"When they said the heart was good, my instant reaction was that my daughter would get a second chance at life," Gonzalez said. "But then on the flip side, it took me about a second to realize that through our joy, another mother was grieving."
Jordan is now healthy as a result of the successful surgery, although she will need to take transplant medication for the rest of her life.
The message Jordan and her mother sent back in 2013 was unexpectedly discovered by Clark when she was looking through Facebook notifications this past Thanksgiving.
On December 23, 2015, Clark experienced the "biggest holiday miracle" when Jordan and her mother promptly responded, starting this correspondence.
Clark told TODAY, "I just looked at her and I knew." It helped me get through the holidays. It was insane to be able to text them and ask them to wish Jordan a Merry Christmas.
Following that, the families began corresponding more frequently and planning the day when they would eventually be able to meet.
Soon enough the big day, January 29, 2016, came around. I believe I was more anxious than nervous on the big day, said Clark, who drove 5 1/2 hours from California to Arizona. I was anxious when I first got out of my car and walked up since Jordan is just great.
She was worried, though, for no reason. Jordan and Clark rushed toward one another and gave each other a bear hug as soon as they locked eyes.
Hearing her son's heartbeat once more was the event that truly altered Heather's life. She was rendered speechless by the intensity of it all.