The mother of a Chicago pre-med student who died in a drowning accident last summer has had the chance to hear her daughter’s heart beat again— in the chest of a close friend.
Nikki, whose last name was not disclosed, strongly believed in organ donation before her death, Fox 32 Chicago reported. As her mother, Vicki Olds, mourned the death of her only child, she learned that Tanisha Basham, the younger sister of a close friend, needed a heart transplant, and set the wheels in motion.
“And she said, ‘Vicki wants to know if she can have you tested for [Nikki’s] heart.’ And I said, ‘I can’t hear this, I can’t hear this,’” Tanisha told Fox 32 Chicago. “’I can’t handle it.’ I dropped the phone. And the next morning, I get the call from the hospital, and they say, ‘We have an offer for you.’”
Tests revealed Nikki and Tanisha were a perfect match. Tanisha’s heart muscle was failing, and she relied on a heart pump to keep it beating. She had been on a transplant list for 18 months, Fox 32 reported.
“Vicki came over to me, and she’s like ‘Tanisha, there’s no one else I would ever want to have her heart than you. Don’t feel bad about this, Nikki would want you to have her heart,’” Tanisha told the news station. “’And now we’re connected by blood forever. You have my baby’s heart in you.’”
The procedure took place at Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center in June. Dr. William Cotts, Tanisha’s surgeon, said the recovery has gone well and the prognosis “is great,” Fox 32 Chicago reported.
Vicki accompanies Tanisha to every one of her echocardiograms, where together they can see and hear Nikki’s heart beating once more.
“I watched that for 45 minutes, and then I actually heard hear heart,” Vicki told Fox 32 Chicago of the first appointment. “And I just sat there and cried. I couldn’t stop crying. To know that this is my baby living inside Tanisha. It was the most overwhelming thing a parent could ever experience.”
Vicki’s lungs, kidneys and liver were also donated to other patients, and her mother has started a foundation in her name to help children in the performing arts.