Grieving Mom Feels Baby Girl’s Heart Beat Again When She Meets Toddler Organ Recipient

A Kentucky woman whose baby girl died in January has found comfort amid her grief after meeting the boy who was the recipient of her daughter’s heart via a transplant.

Denise Bargo of Corbin, Kentucky, lost her daughter, Lena Skye Bargo, in January, just months shy of her 2nd birthday. Doctors didn’t expect Lena to survive after diagnosing her with hydrocephalus, a neurological disorder caused by an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain, shortly after her birth.

Bargo said that doctors installed a shunt to redirect fluid from Lena’s brain. Sadly, the shunt stopped working properly around the beginning of the year, and on Jan. 13, Lena was pronounced brain dead.

At the suggestion of her son, Cody Taylor, Bargo agreed to have Lena’s organs donated ― and her heart turned out to be a perfect match for a 15-month-old Tennessee boy, Mark Clouse Jr., who had been born with a congenital heart defect.

In September, Bargo and her husband, Johnny, got to meet Mark and his mother, Patience Clouse, for the first time. Local NBC affiliate WSMV 4 Nashville captured the moment in an emotional segment that aired last week.

Watch a WSMV 4 report on Lena Skye Bargo’s story below.

“It’s a precious gift to know that my baby’s still alive,” Bargo told the Nashville station. “Mark is alive because of Lena, but Lena’s heart is beating because of Mark.”

Clouse echoed those sentiments, noting that the transplant came at a “perfect” time: “I don’t know if he would’ve waited much longer.”

Some of Lena’s other organs were successfully donated to other patients. Her kidneys went to a 44-year-old man and her liver went to an 8-month-old girl. And Bargo can credit her late daughter with saving her own life, too: While Lena was hospitalized, her mom began having chest pains and was taken to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.

Bargo, who is now in remission, told USA Today that she’s visited with the Clouses three times now. Mark’s parents, she added, even refer to her and her husband as their son’s godparents.

“We’re all one big family now,” she said.