A retired nurse met the mother of an Indiana woman who donated her heart to him

CHICAGO — Tom Johnson of Kankakee has met the family of the Indiana woman who saved his life.

Johnson, a retired nurse and respiratory therapist, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy five years ago and doctors told him he needed a transplant.

His new heart came from Andreona Williams, a South Bend, Indiana woman who died of an asthma attack in her 20s.

Johnson received Williams’ heart at Loyola University Chicago Medical Center after 18 months on the transplant waiting list.

A year after the transplant, Johnson wrote to his donor’s mother asking for a meeting. Last week, three years later, Amber Morgan responded, and the Indiana Donor Network took it from there.

At age 68, Johnson bikes 15 miles a day, runs with his grandchildren, and gardens — anything to stay healthy.

After driving nearly 100 miles, Morgan heard her daughter’s heartbeat in the lobby of a downtown hotel.

According to the Indiana Donor Network, the network coordinates fewer than 30 meetings each year. They said that this meeting was a “rare event” because it happens so rarely.

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