Dad listens to late son’s heartbeat in teddy bear

Facebook/Stephanie Reid

Grab a hankie: You’ll need it when you watch the clip of Virginia dad John Reid receiving the gift of his son’s recorded heartbeat.

Reid’s 16-year-old son John, nicknamed “Dakota,” died in 2019 after a car accident. Reid chose to donate Dakota’s organs.

“I am a Christian and I believe God called on my heart that this is what I was supposed to do,” Reid told Good Morning America. “I knew it would bring life to others — therefore, giving me closure that he lives on.”

Dakota was a passenger in a car that collided with another vehicle on a Virginia highway in January 2019.  Tragically, he was the second student at his high school to die in a car crash that same month, according to Richmond’s WTVR-TV.

“From the day that he was born and the first time that we held him, he was absolutely perfect,” wrote Dakota’s older sister, Ally Hodges, on a GoFundMe page for the family.

Bob O’Connor, 69, of Massachusetts, received Dakota’s heart. In an interview with WWLP-TV, O’Connor said it took about ten months to find and contact Dakota’s family after his transplant. In a letter, Reid said that he would like to meet and hear his son’s heartbeat again. This triggered a memory for O’Connor — of watching TV with his wife and learning of another patient whose heartbeat was recorded and given to loved ones.

In the video, Reid reads a note that accompanied the bear, saying that hospital staff worked together to make the heartbeat recording during one of O’Connor’s follow-up exams.

Here’s the bittersweet moment when Reid opens the gift and gives the Build-A-Bear plush a hug:

The video currently has 245,000 views.

“My heart was filled with joy, that he was able to give a piece of Dakota back to me,” Reid told GMA. “When Dakota was in the hospital, every night I would lay my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat. Even up to that last night. Thanks to Bob O’Connor, I will continue to listen to his heartbeat.”

Though they have yet to meet in person, Reid and O’Connor are working together to spread awareness of the gift of organ donation.

“That’s one of the main reasons John and I communicate a lot,” O’Connor said in his interview. “One person that donates can save up to about seven lives. Not only save them, but affect 50 others.”

Kudos to both men for spreading the word about organ donation and the good it can do! Visit Donate Life America to learn about organ, eye and tissue donation, and to register to donate.

Family & Parenting, Good News, Health, Life, News, Parenting, Relationships
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About the Author
Kathleen St. John
Kathleen St. John is a freelance journalist. She lives in Denver with her husband, two kids and a fiercely protective Chihuahua.

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