Virginia family gets chance to hear son’s heartbeat year after his death

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DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Dinwiddie family got a surprise this week that brought them to tears more than a year after their 16-year-old son died in a tragic multi-vehicle crash.

Dakota Reid’s donated organs saved five lives, including one Massachusetts man who needed a heart.

His parents, Stephanie and John Reid, said that even so, their hearts were not ready to let their son go.

“He was telling me how proud he was of me because of some of the changes that I made in my life,” John Reid said of his son. “At the hospital, you know, I laid my head on his chest a lot because I stayed there day and night. I didn’t leave.”

Robert O’Connor, the man who received Dakota Reid’s heart, gave the teen’s parents an unexpected gift that will keep their son’s heart with them. During his yearly checkup, O’Connor decided to record his heartbeat to send to the Reid family.

O’Connor went to a Build-A-Bear Workshop and put the heartbeat recording inside a bear to give to the teen’s parents. Stephanie Reid captured her husband’s reaction while opening the surprise gift from O’Connor on Wednesday.

In the video, the family struggles to hold back tears while John Reid takes out the bear and presses the paw to hear their son’s heart beating.

“It felt like I was there again like he was with me you know, and uh, now I can listen to it any time I want to,” John Reid explained.

“It’s amazing,” Stephanie Reid said. “It’s the best gift they could have given us. We feel like we have a part of him with us now.”

O’Connor said in a Facetime interview Thursday: “I was lucky that I even got a heart. Myself and my family are so grateful for them donating their son’s organs.”

Dakota Reid’s corneas are helping a man see for the first time and four other lives were saved by his organs. His father is now asking others to consider being organ donors.

“He’s making changes in people’s lives,” John Reid said. “My son is a hero.”

O’Connor and the Reid family have already made plans to meet in person.

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