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Alin Gragossian, almost three months after receiving a heart transplant. (Twitter/AG_EM33)
Alin Gragossian, almost three months after receiving a heart transplant. (Twitter/AG_EM33)

‘Loving, caring heart’

After letter from heart donor’s family, transplant recipient writes back to a young woman ‘just like me’

By WITW Staff on May 16, 2019

A heart transplant recipient has publicly responded on social media to a letter written to her by the family of the girl whose heart she received, and thanking her directly for allowing “loving, caring heart [to live] on inside of me.”

Alin Gragossian, 31, a trainee doctor working in emergency medicine, said that she was overcome by alternating feelings of grief and gratitude after receiving a letter from the family of her heart donor, whose tragically early death made it possible for Gragossian to continue her own life. Unable to contact her donor’s family directly, due to their desire for anonymity, she opted to share her return letter on social media to thank her donor and their family “from the bottom of … our heart.”

“My organ donor was a young girl who was, also, in the prime of her life. She was in school and was involved with many extracurriculars. She seemed very loving, and was absolutely admired by all around her. She was passionate and had many big goals that she never got around to accomplishing,” wrote Gragossian. “I had a lot in common with you. It was more than just our blood type and body habitus. In fact, it was kind of chilling to read about your interests. We probably would have been good friends. But instead, our paths crossed in the strangest of ways. On the last day of your life, on the first day of my life. On the worst day of your life, on the best day of my life. “

“I am so grateful that someone young with a healthy, strong heart died as an honorable organ donor — I needed that heart quickly,” she continued. “But I am so upset that someone young with a healthy, strong heart died. I am so happy that I get to live the rest of my life to accomplish all of my goals. I am so sad that someone else will not be able to accomplish her own goals because of a sudden tragedy. I am so excited to spend my time with my friends and family during this (awful) medical leave. I am so angry that her friends and family can’t spend time with her.”

Gragossian’s letter swiftly went viral on social media, as other organ recipients, donors, and loved ones in similar situations shared stories about their shared experiences — as well as the complex emotions of thankfulness and grief that often accompanied them.

“You described my girl perfectly,” wrote one user. “I dream that my daughters heart recipient would make contact with me personally.”

Read the full story at BBC News and read the full letter on Gragossian’s blog.


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