A Cleveland mother met the child who received her daughter’s heart, just in time for Valentine’s Day - which is also National Organ Donation Day.
“I always say two beautiful girls, one beating heart,” Amber Travaglio told KTLA sister station WJW in Cleveland on Tuesday.
Seven-year-old Melody was a healthy, loving little girl who enjoyed playing with her little brother, Vinnie, fostering animals and knitting hats for NICU babies, according to the girl's mother.
“She was obsessed with knitting,” Travaglio said. “She was special.”
On July 7, 2015, Melody suffered an unexplained and sudden asphyxic asthma attack. Travaglio, who is a nurse married to a police officer, quickly called 911 and began CPR. A team of doctors and nurses at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital tried were unable to save her.
“I just remember flailing onto her hospital bed with her and holding her, just screaming her name,” Travaglio said, tears streaming down her cheeks.
She decided to donate Melody’s organs to continue her legacy of giving.
The little girl passed away on July 9, which was the same day another little girl was celebrating her 4th birthday hospitalized in Atlanta. Peyton Richardson was a completely normal, healthy child until a cold virus attacked her heart.
“I never knew a common cold could do that,” said her mother, Ashlyn Richardson.
Machines had been keeping Peyton’s heart pumping for months when the family learned about Melody’s heart. It was a perfect, lifesaving match.
“I just cried,” Richardson said, “And I kept thinking of that person that lost their child.”
Twenty months later, Travaglio traveled to Atlanta to meet Peyton and her family. There, she was able to meet and hug Peyton.
She told the station it was a surreal experience. “I mean, I grew that heart inside of me," she said.
Both mothers hope people will see their journey and consider organ donation.
“One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 people," said Lifebanc CEO Gordon Bowen.
Travaglio said she is still learning about the people Melody saved, and says just knowing they’re out there gives her tremendous peace.