Teen gets birthday wish, meets girl who received brother's heart

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Monday, March 14, 2016
Monique Salinas, 15, meets Aubrey at her March 5 quinceanera in Benavides, Texas.
Cheryl Reeves-ABCNews

BENAVIDES, Texas -- A Texas girl received a very emotional birthday gift this year: she was able to hear her deceased brother's heart pumping in the girl who had received it a decade ago, ABC News reports.

"She felt happy and sad," mom Melissa Hernandez of Benavides, Texas, told ABC News today. "All she ever wanted was to hear her brother's heart beating again and she got that gift...we both did. She said there was no other gift that we could've given her that was so special, so wonderful."

Hernandez, 33, said it was June 11, 2005, when a car crash took the life of her 5-year-old son, Mikey.

"He was a loving child," Hernandez said. "Anywhere he went he would talk to you and make you laugh and smile. He loved going to the ranch, barbequing...he loved life. At 5 years old, he captured the hearts of many."

"My son and I had a thing," she added. "I'd put his hand on my heart and my hand on his. I'd say to him, 'Do you feel that boom boom? Every time you get scared and you miss dad or you miss mom, put your hand on your heart and rub it because mommy rubs her heart all day thinking of you.'"

Hernandez said she had Mikey's organs donated after he died.

But it wasn't until this year, a decade after Mikey's death, that she learned the name of the girl who received his heart.

Cheryl Reeves, of Wichita Falls, Texas, told ABC News that her daughter Aubrey was given Mikey's heart and one of his kidneys when she was 8 years old.

Due to a congenital heart defect, this would be the third heart for Aubrey, now 18, as the first two had been rejected from her body, according to her mother.

"On June 17, 2005 [Aubrey] received Mikey's heart," Reeves said. "It was six months of waiting, but they said it was the perfect match. She has not had any problems with her heart. It's just been wonderful."

Reeves said her husband did some research and found the heart belonged to a 5-year-old boy. However, contact with Mikey's family would have to be mutually accepted on both sides through the donor registry, she added.

Ten years later, on Mikey's Oct. 26 birthday, Hernandez called Reeves to set up a meeting between both families.

"After hearing [Aubrey's] story, I think we made the right decision [to donate Mikey's heart]," Hernandez said.

Hernandez then decided they'd invite Reeves and Aubrey to her daughter Monique's March 5 quinceanera--giving her the birthday gift she's always wanted: to hear her brother's heartbeat again.

"Monique just embraced Aubrey and I think she whispered 'Don't let go,'" Reeves said. "Melissa put her arms around both of them and I put my arms around Melissa. It was surreal and such a beautiful moment."

"Aubrey is really looking at it as another family," she continued. "She's really embracing the idea that she's a part of their family because she has this little boy's heart."