Family of 2-year-old tissue donor meets 1-year-old recipient

LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- More than 10 months after losing their son in a tragic accident, the parents of a 2-year-old boy met the recipient of their son's aortic heart valve, a 1-year-old girl from Missouri.

Last August, Logan Vanderkleed was killed after his neck became stuck in a car window while at the family farm.

Friday afternoon, the parents, Drew and Lisa Vanderkleed, met Lillian Wilson who received their son's heart value.

Wilson was born with a heart condition that required surgery when she was only five days old. The condition has forced the child into several open-heart surgeries already in her young life.

The boy's donation allowed Wilson to celebrate her first birthday last month.

Lillian's mother, Sarah Wilson, said she had written to the Vanderkleed family before the meeting. In her note, she said, "Because of your loss, my 7-month-old daughter gets to live. That's really hard to put into words...my daughter's heart is repaired because of a donor. Thank you doesn't say enough."

The families met for the first time at the Vanderkleeds' farm as a way to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation to help save more lives.

According to the Indiana Donor Network, right now there are more than 360 patients under the age of five who are waiting for a lifesaving heart valve transplant.

News of Logan's tragic death had spread throughout the state. A Facebook page titled Love For Logan has attracted more than 54,000 followers. A GoFundMe account has raised more than $24,000 to help the family with medical expenses.

Drew Vanderkleed said the donations covered medical bills, and there was enough money to make a donation to Riley Hospital for Children, where Logan was treated before he passed away, and other organizations.

The Wilson's said they had never visited Indiana before, but were looking forward to a weekend with the Vanderkleed family. The Wilson's older daughter, Preslee, 3, was already playing with the Vanderkleed's daughter, Kendra, 6. The two families plan to visit Colombian Park Zoo in Lafayette. The attraction was something Logan had enjoyed with his family.

The Vanderkleed couple is expecting the birth of a son near the end of the year.