When Lacey and Brandon Wilcox lost their 2-year-old daughter, Alaiya, to bacterial meningitis, they were asked by the doctors whether or not they would like to donate Alaiya’s organs. Even though they were still in the midst of grieving, the couple knew what was the right and the best thing to do.
Both Lacey and Brandon did not hesitate to agree to donate their deceased daughter’s organs to those who were in dire need of them. They knew exactly how it felt to lose a child so they did not want other parents to go through the same heartbreak.
“My husband and I did not hesitate as we both replied with ‘YES!’ Alaiya was such a giving child that we knew it was the right thing to do. We knew that she would be saving others’ lives,” Lacey said
It was particularly hard for Lacey who lost her mother just eight days before Alaiya passed away. In addition, she found out that she was pregnant with their third daughter soon afterward.
“Grieving on top of being pregnant was not easy for us by any means. Our 3-year-old was devastated she lost her sister and best friend. We definitely came even closer together as a family,” Lacey said
Alaiya’s heart went to Maison Perkins who was born with a heart defect. Two days after Alaiya’s death, Maison received her heart. “When we found out Alaiya’s heart saved a 10-month-old little boy, we were very pleased with our decision on having Lai be a donor.”
Lacey added: “We often wondered if the recipient family was appreciative of the beautiful gift Alaiya had given. I, myself, prayed we would be able to meet them and hear her sweet heartbeat again.”
On December 8, 2016, the couple’s prayer was finally answered when a photographer reached out to them and told that someone wanted to write them a letter. Lacey was okay with the request but she was curious about who the mysterious person who wanted to write a letter was.
Turned out, the letter was written by Maison’s mother! Lacey said:”I was extremely emotional yet happy.”
“Angela messaged me on Facebook and we shared our stories. She couldn’t tell me enough how grateful they were for giving Mason a chance at life and that she and her family will make sure he lives a fulfilling life. When we saw for ourselves how she ALWAYS recognizes Alaiya in her posts about Mason, we knew she loved her.”
She further added: “We talked about meeting all year. We knew it was important for all of us to have a relationship because we are connected for life.
It happened to work out perfectly for us to meet on September 25 because Mason had a doctor appointment in Nashville and that was a halfway point for all of us. My husband and I had a roller coaster of emotions running through us.”
When the two families finally met each other in an emotional meeting, Lacey and Brandon could not help but to feel an instant connection to Maison
“So many feelings were running through me. I was happy and sad all in one. Seeing for ourselves how happy and energetic Mason is was a relief. It showed us how ‘perfect’ Alaiya’s heart was for him.”
“This entire experience is ‘bittersweet’ because as parents we want all of our children with us, and that isn’t our situation. In a perfect world, Alaiya and Mason could have both been saved and Angela and I could have met in the baby aisle of Target, but that isn’t our story.”
As a parent, Lacey said that she would do anything for the sake of her daughter but now, she felt relieved as she could see ‘Alaiya’ in Maison
“The love they have for our sweet angel baby shows in volumes. We are forever bonded as a unit!”
Maison was one of the seven people that received Alaiya’s organs. “We almost lost him, and for that eight months.
“There were many times when I wondered, ‘Will we be able to bring him home? Will he ever know what his room looked like? Will he ever leave the hospital?’ Alaiya had made that possible,” Angela said
“I am a firm believer that a parent’s love is forever woven into our hearts, and there’s no doubt that the heart that beats inside of Mason knows the familiarity of Brandon and Lacey. I am forever grateful for the gift of life, and I will always make sure that Mason lives a life big enough for two.”
The two families met in person at Centennial Park in Nashville where the Wilcoxes had the chance to hear their daughter’s heartbeat again
Their reunion was a part of the World of Broken Hearts programme for Project Heart. The project was created to raise awareness about congenital heart defects and organ donation.