Organ recipient and donor's mother continue to share special bond

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly two years to the month after Erika Heranic's life was saved by a heart transplant, she and her donor's mother reunited again at UCI Medical Center to continue to encourage others to become donors.

Heranic suffered a major heart attack and multiple episodes of cardiac arrest and stroke.

The strokes left her blind and paralyzed on one side of her body, but she survived and regained enough strength to be placed on a heart transplant list.

After a few months, she received the life-saving news: a helicopter was on the way with her new heart.

"It's landing on top of your room, and all of a sudden a sense of calm hit me, and I just thought I knew...this is it," said Heranic.

After her successful transplant, Erika began a search to find the family of the anonymous organ donor who saved her life.

Once discharged, she searched Google for tragedies.

Erika realized the heart could be from anywhere but she found two deaths in her area.

"I wanted to write her a letter, I wanted to get a hold of her," said Heranic. "All I knew was it was a 19-year-old, six foot two male."

Nineteen-year-old Dylan Stump died at UC Irvine medical center after a car accident on the 22 freeway.

He was on his way home from college to see his family for Easter break.

He had been involved in a fender-bender when his car became disabled.

A car swerved to miss his car, but the truck behind it slammed into Dylan going 60 mph.

"Saying the words that Dylan was in a car accident and he may not make it, was the hardest thing I ever had to do," said Dana Stump, Dylan's mother.

Six months after the transplant, the hospital contacted Erika to see if she would accept a call from Dylan's family.

Erika accepted without hesitation.

After the phone call, Dana and Erika immediately became friends.

They began to regularly phone, email, and text each other as well as becoming Facebook friends.

At both women's request, they met for the first time a year ago when Dana heard her son's heart in Erika's chest for the first time.

"The minute I heard it, I was like, that is Dylan's heart, it sounds just like his heart, which is crazy," said Dana.
Dana and Erika have developed an incredible bond and now speak together for OneLegacy, an organization dedicated to saving lives through organ donation.

They say it's the best way to honor Dylan's life.

"I usually speak first and I always finish and I do say she's our silver lining because she's here," said Dana.
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