In an incredible chance encounter, one family unexpectedly met the man who received their loved one's heart. 

In 2016, Belleville, Ill. resident Donovan Bulger passed away at age 21 in an accident. Because he was an organ donor, doctors were able to save his heart.

Donovan's recipient was John Sueme, a St. Louis resident suffering from heart failure. John received Donovan's heart two days after his death. 

After the transplant, John reached out to Donovan's family through the organ donation organization, but he was not able to reveal his last name, age, or location. Donovan's sister Savannah Chavez Roesch wrote back and included a photo of her brother. 

Unbeknownst to either party, both families would end up at the same St. Louis Cardinals' game in April for Donate Life day. Donovan's siblings and in-laws wore shirts that bore a photo of his face. While they were taking a family photo, John's daughter walked by and caught a glimpse of the photo on the shirts. 

She recognized the young man as her father's donor, so John and his family approached Donovan's family. 

A family friend caught the emotional moment on camera. Donovan's siblings put their ear to John's chest and listened to their brother's heartbeat. 

Heart recipient meets donor's family
Savannah Chavez Roesch

Savannah said her brother, who loved his friends, family, and nature, was "the most giving, caring person you could ever meet." 

"He was giving even in death," she said. 

The families have stayed in touch since the meeting and want to use the story to spread the word about organ donation. 

You can register to be an organ donor at 

HeartThreads are the best stories about the best of us. 

Want more? Follow us!