Parents who lost their 21-year-old son hear his heartbeat in Vietnam vet's chest

Casey Heisler and Tom MeeksKARE 11 video screenshot

A Minnesota family was united with the person who received their son's donated heart in a touching meeting captured on camera.

The Heisler family was even able to hear their son, Matthew's heartbeat in the chest of Washington resident Tom Meeks.

Meeks was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare disease in which an abnormal protein builds up in a person's organs, in April 2011. After being rejected by five hospitals, Meeks was placed on a waiting list for a heart transplant by the Mayo Clinic last year.

The Vietnam veteran and his wife, Ann, moved to Rochester to be close to the hospital in November 2013. Four months later, 21-year-old Matt Heisler died in a house fire, and Meeks received his heart.

Heisler was a student at the University of North Dakota, and agreed to be an organ donor at the age of 16.


"He made the decision that if life ever slipped away from him, he would give life to someone else," his father, Jared, told KARE 11.

Eight months after the transplant, Jared, his wife, Cheryl, and their daughter, Casey, met with Meeks.

"I woke up this morning and told Matt that Mom and Dad are coming today," Meeks shared.

After an emotional greeting, the Heisler family took turns listening to Meeks' heartbeat with a stethoscope.

"The heart that I grew up with and felt in all of my hugs when I hugged him is still out there somewhere," Casey said.

In addition to allowing Meeks to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren, Matt's organs benefited 60 individuals. Two women received one kidney each, and a 61-year-old man received Matt's liver.

The Heisler family has set up a scholarship in Matthew's honor at Provincial Bank, P.O. Box 459 Lakeville, MN 55044.


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