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Jun 5, 2014 5:45 PM by Kari Beal

Heart donor family unites with overjoyed recipient

The heart of a Kaplan teenager who died in a car accident back in 2012 beats on. 18 year-old Zackary Lemaire was an organ donor and today his family reunited with the transplant recipient.

Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) helped connect the families after the transplant recipient reached out and the donation family responded. Zackary is credited with saving four lives and giving eyesight to two people through his donations.

"Of course we want him [Zackery], but in not having him, this is the best outcome. For him to save lives," Zackery's godfather Jamie Abshire said.

Zackery's heart now beats inside Arkansas resident Tim Elam, who was diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy. Elam is married and has two children.

"I couldn't walk around the house without getting short of breath," Elam said. "I went from a pretty active person in 2005 to almost no heart function right before surgery."

Elam's blood type is less common: B positive. His doctor explained this could be a good or bad thing. On one hand, he could more likely receive a heart because there are less of his blood type recipients, but at the same time, there are fewer donors with his blood type so it could be harder. After four months of waiting, Tim Elam got promising news and his family was overjoyed.

"If we hadn't had this opportunity I don't know if he would still be here," Tim's wife Candy Elam said.

Just two years later, sitting in Zackery's family living room, the donor and recipients family experience a moment they will never forget. Zackery's mom listens to her son's heartbeat inside Tim Elam.

"If we hadn't had this opportunity, I don't know if he would still be here," Elam said.

Now, both these families can rest knowing the strength of a heart beats on.

In the United States, there are 122,000 patients waiting for an organ donor. According to LOPA, one donor can save nine lives and help many others. Those interested in becoming an organ donor can do so at anytime by clicking here: https://donatelifela.org/
For more information on LOPA click here: http://www.lopa.org/about-LOPA

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