Family Grateful for Second Chance for Baby Girl

One year after her heart transplant, Kaidence Stephenson is thriving.

ByABC News
December 25, 2008, 9:49 AM

Dec. 25, 2008— -- BOUNTIFUL, Utah (AP) - The Stephenson family is attempting topay forward all the kindness they received last Christmas whentheir 10-month-old daughter received a new heart.

Kaidence Stephenson, now 22 months old, was born healthy inFebruary 2007, said her mother, Shauntelle Stephenson. But inAugust, the Bountiful family learned Kaidence had a serious heartproblem.

On Dec. 23, 2007, a heart from another child was placed insideKaidence's chest and began beating for her.

"Words can't express your feelings," said Mike Stephenson, herfather. "Your child is going to get a chance at life, while at thesame time grief washes over you, because a poor family had to losea child so yours can live."

When the couple learned a heart had been found, they immediatelyknelt down to pray for the family whose child died.

"It is a forever bittersweet feeling," said ShauntelleStephenson. "Another family chose to give to save you from theheartbreak of losing your child."

That family is in the Stephensons' thoughts daily as theyexpress gratitude for being together this Christmas.

"You can't beat the Christmas gift we got last year, but we getto be together this year," Mike Stephenson said.

The Stephensons count their blessings as they look for ways toreturn random acts of kindness to neighbors and family members.

They said it was the community support that helped them getthrough the roller-coaster ride of their daughter's health problemsafter her heart condition was discovered.

"Meals came in every other night, after we came home untilMarch," Shauntelle Stephenson said. "Our roof was leaking, and wecame home to find our neighbors had stripped it and were puttingnew shingles on. Packages showed up at the doorstep, and a jar fullof money with the book, 'Christmas Jar' was there one night."

Kaidence's heart problems began following a summer vacation inIdaho.

Shauntelle Stephenson took Kaidence and her sons, McCaden, now7, and Camden, now 4, to visit family in Idaho in July 2007.Everyone came down with a stomach virus.