CLEVELAND -- A Cleveland mom met the child who received her daughter’s heart, just in time for Valentine’s Day -- which is also National Organ Donation Day.
“I always say two beautiful girls, one beating heart,” said Amber Travaglio.
Seven-year-old Melody was a healthy, loving little girl who enjoyed playing with her little brother, Vinnie, fostering animals and knitting hats for NICU babies.
“She was obsessed with knitting,” Travaglio said. “She was special.”
On July 7, 2015, Melody suffered an unexplained and sudden asphyxic asthma attack.
Travaglio, who is a nurse married to a police officer, quickly called 911 and began CPR. A team of doctors and nurses at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital tried hard, but were unable to save her.
“I just remember flailing onto her hospital bed with her and holding her, just screaming her name,” Travaglio said.
Travaglio decided to donate Melody’s organs to continue her legacy of giving.
She died on July 9, the same day another little girl was celebrating her fourth birthday hospitalized in Atlanta. Peyton Richardson was a completely normal, healthy child too, until a cold virus attacked her heart.
“I never knew a common cold could do that,” said her mother, Ashlyn Richardson.
Machines had been keeping Peyton’s heart pumping for months when the family learned about Melody’s heart. It was a perfect, lifesaving match.
“I just cried,” Richardson said. “And I kept thinking of that person that lost their child.”
Twenty months later, Travaglio traveled to Atlanta to meet Peyton and her family. Travaglio was able to meet and hug Peyton. A surreal experience, she said.
"I mean I grew that heart inside of me," she said.
Both moms hope people will see their journey and consider organ donation.
"One organ donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 people," Lifebanc CEO Gordon Bowen said.
Travaglio is still learning about the people Melody saved, and says just knowing they’re out there gives her tremendous peace.