The Emotional Moment a Mother Hears Late Son's Heartbeat in Organ Recipient

The emotional moment Lisa Swanson hears her late son's heart beat again.

ByABC News
April 4, 2016, 4:32 PM

— -- A North Dakota woman was able to hear her late son's heart beat again after meeting with the man who received her son's heart in an organ donation.

Lisa Swanson met Terry Hooper, 64, more than three years after Hooper received the heart from Swanson's late son Levi Schulz. Swanson met with Hooper to mark the start of National Donate Life Month and to bring awareness to organ donation. She said she wasn't sure how she was going to handle meeting Hooper at first.

"You’re nervous about meeting the guy that has your son’s heart," she recalled. "Am I going to cry? How am I going to feel?"

But in their first meeting, Swanson quickly jumped in to give Hooper a big hug.

"You can't cry or we won't get through this," she said in video of their meeting.

Hooper, who wore a shirt with Levi's picture on it, told Swanson, "He's my hero."

"Everyday I think of him," he said.

Swanson told ABC News that meeting with Hooper and hearing her son's heart beat in his chest was "surreal."

"It saved Terry’s life, so, to hear it beating so loud and so strong in him ... it was a great experience," she said. Surprisingly, she said she started to see a little bit of her son's demeanor and personality in Hooper.

"What it reminded me of is my son Levi at 64 years old," Swanson told ABC News of meeting Hooper. "That quick-wittedness and joking ... it was almost like a perfect match."

Schulz was killed at age 18 in 2012 after getting into an automobile accident near his home in Horace, North Dakota. Swanson told ABC News that she and the rest of her family had often talked about organ donation and she knew the teen had already signed up to be an organ donor.

"When Levi went to get his driver’s license in North Dakota they ask if [he wanted] to be an organ donor," Swanson recalled. "I said, 'Your dad is a donor, I’m a donor, your two older brothers are donors. ... He looked at me and said, ‘Mom, who wouldn’t want my awesomeness.’"

Swanson said she and her family are thankful they had clear discussions about organ donation prior to the accident and that it made a terrible time more bearable.

"He in the end helped over 60 people," through organ donation, she told ABC News. "I think organ donation is the most unselfish gift somebody can do."