Mum listens to late daughter's heart as it beats in another teenager's body

Emmy Hamlin, 40, tragically lost her only daughter Alydia, 15, after she took her own life in April last year.

Despite her heartbreak, the mum-of-two made the decision to donate her heart, liver and kidneys after she was declared brain dead.

Alydia’s heart saved Brooklyn Konerman, now 16, who was born with a rare defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of the heart doesn’t develop.

Her mum Angela wanted to thank the family of her donor and she sent a letter to Emmy via the transplant coordinators in December 2019, which prompted Emmy to find the Konerman family via social media.

The families met up earlier this month and Emmy has shared the touching video for the first time which shows her listening to her daughter’s heartbeat on 6 March.

Emmy, from St Louis, Missouri, said: ‘I had a healthy child for 15 years who died suddenly and unexpectedly but the Konerman family spent those same 15 years with a sick child whose future was unknown.

‘It was wonderful to meet them all, I was greeted with a big hug and I know I have formed a friendship for life.

‘I received a letter from all the recipients saying thank you, but I automatically felt connected to Brooklyn as she was the same age as Alydia.’

Speaking about her daughter’s death on 8 April last year, Emmy said: ‘Alydia was a bright kid who was always smiling but she did something impulsive in dark moment.

‘It was the worst day of my life and words can’t even describe how much I miss her.

‘I remember being a teenager and struggling with my feelings too – she was on anti-depressants but seemed to be coping well.

‘She was complaining about her maths homework just 45 minutes before, it is hard for me to comprehend what had happened.’

Her husband Christopher,46, who works as an anesthesiologist performed CPR and when paramedics arrived they found a pulse but at the hospital, they were told she had been deprived of oxygen for too long and she was brain dead.

Emmy adds: ‘We kept the life support machine on for two days and I stayed by her side, she was a mini me with a bright future ahead – we all miss her so much.

‘I immediately knew I wanted to donate her organs – it was the right thing to do.

‘It is a bittersweet situation; my world fell apart and theirs was filled with hope and happiness.’

Brooklyn, from Indiana, US, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, at birth and underwent six major operations before she required a heart transplant.

Her most recent surgery, two months prior to the transplant, was to have a ventricular assist pump implanted which is a mechanical pump inserted called that’s used to support heart function continuously.

As it had become infected, Brooklyn was an in-patient at the time of Alydia’s death – she was placed on the transplant waiting list on 3 April and received the heart ten days later.

Angela, who is a customer service advisor, said: ‘Brooklyn has been fortunate to lead a normal life, although she has had more surgeries than the average teen – she has taken it in her stride.

‘But doctors were uncertain about her future and warned us about many health problems she may one day face such as cancer and infertility.

‘When her vad line became infected, they decided to add her to the transplant list now rather than later. A heart transplant was necessary but we never expected to have one so quickly.

‘The doctor came into Brooklyn’s room at 9 pm and said they’ve got the ‘perfect’ heart.

‘We were shocked, excited and sad all at the same time.

‘She felt extremely lucky but as we were celebrating – we felt devastated knowing someone had died.

‘I immediately knew I wanted to know more about who the heart belongs to and so did Brooklyn.’

After Brooklyn recovered, her mum sent a thank you letter through the transplant coordinators, including their name and where they were from.

Emmy found her on Facebook after finding fundraising links online and the pair were ‘thrilled’ to discover the feeling of meeting one another was mutual.

They met up earlier this month and the Konermans gifted Emmy and her son Keegan, 13, with drumsticks that had Alydia’s heartbeat engraved.

Emmy said: ‘Angela has been fundraising for her daughter throughout her life to fund surgeries and crazy amounts of medication so she was pretty easy to find.

‘I knew I wanted to meet them to hear Alydia’s heartbeat again and to find out how it has improved Brooklyn’s life.

‘Alydia absolutely loved music, I remember when I was pregnant and I used to watch Yellow Submarine on repeat and funnily enough, it happened to be her favourite film.

‘Keegan and I have started playing the drums and attending the music school Alydia used to attend for lessons – we want to make sure her legacy lives on.

‘It has also really helped me take my mind off things along with art however I did suffer with flashbacks and anxiety – we have had to move home.’

Emmy intends on planning a fundraiser for Brooklyn during the summer and Angela has received an invite to her home.

The pair urge other people to save lives by highlighting the importance of organ donation.

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