CINCINNATI – Blake Adkins died in February of 2014, but his mother can still hear the beating of his heart.
Blake was 21 when he died from an unexpected brain aneurysm.
Alisha Stamper had been diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy in 2011. The rare disease means the heart has a hard time pumping blood. Last year, doctors said she had just five days to live.
Blake’s tragic death ended up saving her life. Stamper received his heart on February 14 – Valentine’s Day.
“It came at the perfect time,” Stamper said.
But Stamper couldn’t just forget the precious gift and move on. She vowed to find the family of the man who had given her the heart. She got Blake’s last name and was able to find his relatives.
Stamper had met with Blake’s mom, Donna Adkins, a couple times before. Saturday, she and her family got to meet with Blake’s extended family from Cincinnati, New York and North Carolina.
“He’s still here with me, and I’m so grateful that he made the decision [to give] what I call ‘the gift that keeps giving,’”
Stamper said she feels a connection to Blake. She even put up a “Blake” stocking for Christmas.
“Her surgeon told her it was a perfect heart and a perfect match,” Adkins said. “She calls my son her ‘perfect heart angel.’”
Adkins took a moment with a stethoscope to listen to the heart beating inside Stamper.
“I get to feel my son’s heartbeat. It’s real,” Adkins said. “It’s a real heart that’s beating here. Just to listen to the rhythm is amazing.”
All of Blake’s viable organs were donated to others, saving several lives. Adkins said she’s writing a book about their store and the importance of organ donation.