Woman given second chance after organ donor gives heart



SEATTLE, Wash. - A mother is thankful for an organ donor who gave her daughter a new heart earlier this week, and she believes the donor was a 25-year-old woman who died from injuries in a car crash.


Without a heart, 24-year-old Mary Mathews of Silverdale had just days left due to a condition called cardiomyopathy.


Late Monday, Mathews was given another chance when the doctor told her and her mother, Julia Barnes, that an organ donor was found.


Earlier that day, 25-year-old Brenda Gomez was taken off life support after suffering a brain injury in a vehicle collision. Police said 19-year-old Yichun Xu collided into her vehicle in Des Moines.


Mathews and Barnes believe the heart was from Gomez.


KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter David Ham spoke with Mathews and Barnes on Thursday to see Mathews take her first steps just days after her transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center.


“This is the best Thanksgiving ever,” said Mathews. “I needed it very badly. Dr. Levy basically said, 'We need a heart.'”



“Life is pretty good,” said Barnes. “When I saw on the news site that she had passed away that day, just a few hours later, we have a heart. I couldn’t help but think that maybe that was what it was.”


Due to privacy concerns, the hospital could not confirm or deny if the heart was from Gomez. However, Gomez’s family said that the heart went to a 24-year-old woman in the area.


“They saved my child’s life. They gave her life,” said Barnes.


Mathews told KIRO 7 that she wanted to be a school teacher, and KIRO 7 also told her that Gomez had a dream of teaching kids.


“It’s like God is working. That’s amazing,” said Mathews. “This is a second chance at life, and I’m going to take it. Most people don’t get a second chance.”


Barnes wanted to thank Gomez’s mother for the heart.


“Her daughter isn’t completely gone because her heart is still here,” Barnes said.


Mathews wanted to stress the importance of being an organ donor by sharing her story, and she will be home in 10 days.


Gomez’s two kidneys and liver were also donated.


Xu is currently being held on $2 million bail in Seattle for the crash and will be charged Dec. 6 with vehicular homicide. He is from China and going to school in the area, but he does not have a valid driver’s license and may not be in the country legally, which prosecutors are investigating.