It was a joyful yet emotional reunion as an organ recipient and his family met the heart donor's family. There were plenty of hugs and tears to go around.
Kareem Momo and his family were introduced to the Dean's, the family of the heart donor who gave Kareem a second chance at life. "I have been praying day and night for this time, to which we are very pleased to meet them today. I cannot wait to see them, said Kareem's mother, Bernice Momo.
Kareem an athletic 22 year-old, said he was going to join the military but, he hadn't been feeling well. His mother urged him to go to the doctor, and it was a good thing she did. "The first thing she asked me was, am I feeling okay. And I said yeah I feel great. And then she was like, well your heart isn't looking so great, you shouldn't even be alive right now," said Kareem.
He was told the left side of his heart had stopped working. After the doctor explained the situation to Kareem and his parents, he was rushed into surgery. Then, he spent seven months on the organ transplant list, before getting a new heart.
Kareem said he only knew a little bit about the person who his heart once belonged to. "He was a part of the coast guard and he was a part of Katrina, and helping those victims over there. And that actually means a lot, because basically I got a hero's heart," said Kareem.
The Momo's met the donor's family. Jessica, the donor's widow and Kareem embraced. There were plenty of hugs and tears from both families. "They call it my rebirth, but to me it's like an anniversary of being able to be on this earth, along with everybody here," said Kareem.
"It's meant a lot knowing that through his passing, we were able to save the lives of four other people. I know that's what he would've wanted because, he spent his whole life saving people," said Jessica.
Jessica and her mother-in-law Cena, listened to their loved ones heartbeat one more time. Jessica said she used to lay her head on her husbands chest to sleep at night. "It meant a lot to hear that heartbeat again. Rather than it just be gone," said Jessica.
The Momo's and the Dean's plan to keep in touch, even visit each other on holidays. The two families say they are now one, joined by a special bond and a shared heartbeat.
More than 100,000 people in the United States and more than 11,000 in Texas are awaiting life-saving organ transplants. Sadly, an average of 20 people die every day before those organs become available. To become an organ donor visit donatelifetexas.org, to register.