The same heart

The 15th birthday is particularly special for every girl: In Latin American families, this day is celebrated with a feast known as 'Quinceañera'. Monique Salinas was pleased with everything on her special celebration day.

She lives with her family in Benavides, Texas. Sadly, Monique's family had gone through difficult times 10 years prior to this event. Monique's brother, Mikey, died in a car accident when she was just five. She still misses him terribly every day.

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At the time, her parents decided that despite their grief their son's death should not be in vain. So they willingly donated his organs.

In doing so, they saved the life of a young girl they didn't even know: Aubrey Reeves, who was just eight years old. Aubrey suffered from a congenital heart disease. At the time of Mikey's death, her body had already rejected two hearts. The fact that her body and Mikey's heart were a perfect match really was a miracle. They also transplanted his kidneys. Today, Aubrey is 18 years old and can live a healthy, normal life.

The donation was anonymous and so Aubrey never knew who she could thank for her life. Even Mikey's family was not aware if the transplant had been a success or not. It was ten years after the organ donation that the personal details of Aubrey were first sent to Mikey's parents. Then they came up with an idea: they invited Aubrey and her mother to the 15th birthday of their daughter, Monique.

Monique didn't say anything. She was incredibly excited about her Quinceañera, but she was also sad that her brother couldn't be there.

Aubrey and her mother had to drive 10 hours to finally meet the family, that gave Aubrey a second chance at life. Initially they stood unnoticed amidst the crowd. Then, Monique's parents gave away the secret: The heart of Monique's dead brother, Mikey, was in the middle of the room, and was alive and beating in the chest of a young girl. When Monique realized that the person who received her brother's heart was there, she broke into tears.

As Aubrey approached them, there was no holding back. The two girls and Monique's mom, Melissa, embraced each other in tears.

For Monique this was an incredible surprise: when she gave Aubrey a hug she could feel the heart of her brother beating. Her brother was in fact at her 15th birthday, because although Mikey died, he lived on in Aubrey. Nobody had expected that.