BATON ROUGE, La. — One dad got an incredible gift this Father’s Day: He met the young man whose life was saved by his daughter’s donated heart.
Bill Conner is on a healing journey. He’s biking across country to cope with the sudden loss of his 20-year-old daughter Abigail Mae, who died less than six months ago.
“It’s only 2,600 miles…one day at a time,” Conner said.
Around the same time Conner was saying goodbye to his daughter, across the country a young man learned his life was numbered in days.
“I couldn’t grasp it. I’m thinking not I’m not really sick,” Loumonth Jack Jr. said.
A seemingly vibrant and healthy 21-year-old, he thought the tight sensation in his chest was just heartburn.
“The pain became unbearable, so they did an EKG and bam — found out I was having a heart attack.”
With treatment, doctors thought he was on the road to recovery.
“The doctors said that he would bounce back,” Loumonth Jack Sr. said.
But then, the worst news came: His heart was failing, and fast.
“My doctors told me it was a viral infection that caused inflammation and damaged my heart,” Loumonth Jr. said.
And that’s where these two stories collide. Conner’s daughter Abbey was an organ donor. She died January 12, and Loumonth received her heart the next day.
“Seeing my daughter on life support then finding out that they were matches. And four of her organs were ready to be harvested…made it a little bit easier that we were helping someone in need,” Conner said.
“She saved me, and I can’t repay her. I wish I could, but I can’t. All I can do is send my love to her family,” Loumonth Jr. said.
Now, at the end of his biking journey, Abbey’s father met the man his daughter saved and heard her heartbeat on Father’s Day.
“She’s alive, Jack’s alive and she’s alive. It’s her heart.”
Conner says not only is this journey about bonding with his daughter, it’s to encourage every stranger he meets to become a registered donor.
“This isn’t about me. This is about Abbey and helping other people in need,” he said. “It’s unfortunate she didn’t have a choice on how she was gonna leave this earth, but at the same time, just like Abbey, making an impact even though she left.”