Pointe Coupee Parish, La. — It was an unusual gift for Bill Conner on Father’s Day: a stranger gave him a stethoscope and then opened his shirt to reveal a long scar.
Conner put the stethoscope against the stranger’s chest, and heard the sound of Abbey Conner’s heart — his daughter’s heart, beating again, after her death– keeping the stranger alive.
In January, Abbie Conner died in a Ft. Lauderdale hospital. She was just 20 years old. Her grief-stricken father, Bill, had only one small comfort.
“Seeing my daughter on life support… and then finding out that there were matches (for her organs),” he says, “made it a little bit easier–that we were helping people in need.”
One of those people in need was 20-year old Loumonth Jack, Jr., of Vacherie. His heart was damaged by a viral infection, and he was dying.
The day after Abbey’s death, Loumonth received her heart.
On Father’s Day, Bill met Loumonth in Pointe Coupee Parish. The two men hugged for a long time, and Loumonth handed Bill the stethoscope, to make that tangible connection after a terrible loss.
“She saved me,” said Loumonth, “and I can’t repay her. I wish I could but I can’t. All I can do is send my love to (her) family.”
Bill Conner is on a one-man bicycle trip from the family’s home in Wisconsin to Ft. Lauderdale, and he met Loumonth along the way. He will continue the journey, telling people about Abbey’s death and Loumonth’s life, hoping to get people to sign up to be organ donors.
“She didn’t have a choice in how she was gonna leave this earth,” Conner says about his daughter, “but she’s making an impact even though she left.”