Melody Travaglio's seven-year-old heart stopped beating on July 7, 2015 in the middle of the night. Amber Travaglio, her mother and registered nurse, frantically began CPR. Her daughter's pulse returned, but she couldn't get air to Melody's lungs. She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors told Amber that her daughter had a fatal asphyxic asthma attack. Melody died July 9, 2015.
"I just remember flailing onto her hospital bed with her and holding her and just screaming her name," Amber said, crying at the memory.
In a moment of clarity, Amber chose to donate Melody's heart.
"Melody was irreplaceably special," she said, "and that heart just had more to give this world."
Another girl was in desperate need of a heart
On that same day, Peyton Richardson was celebrating her fourth birthday in hospital in Georgia. She was admitted to the hospital in January 2015 after a cold virus attacked her heart, according to reporters. The machine was the only thing keeping her alive.
Peyton's mother, Ashlyn Richardson, broke down in tears when doctors told her that they found a heart for Peyton, but she wasn't just crying for her daughter. "I kept thinking of that person that lost their child," she said.
Melody's heart traveled over 700 miles from Cleveland, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia, which is about the farthest distance a heart can travel for transplant. Lifebanc CEO Gordon Bowen said Melody's heart was a perfect match.
The emotional meeting
Now, almost two years after the heart transplant, Amber got to meet the little girl who keeps her daughter's heart beating. They met on the day we celebrate love, Valentine's Day.
"Meeting her heart recipient this week brought me some peace and closure," Amber shared, "I am forever grateful for that. Peyton and her mom are amazing strong people and I am touched and honored to call them family."