WSVN — If you’ve ever thought about donating your organs, this story might help you make up your mind. It’s the journey of a South Florida family from triumph to tragedy and back again. Carmel Cafiero reports.
Maybe you remember Mark Londner, our friend and colleague here at 7News. For decades, he covered South Florida and the world with clarity and compassion.
Mark Londner: “From South Florida, they have come to Auschwitz. They have come on a pilgrimage of pain.”
Mark and his family also knew pain. He lost his fight with cancer in 2003, and before that, Mark lost his son Michael, who everybody called Mikey.
Ronnie Londner: “He had a brain hemorrhage on the third day of life due to his prematurity, which unfortunately is still pretty much a thing that happens with babies born as early as Mikey. He was 11 weeks early.”
Ronnie Londner, Mark’s widow and Mikey’s mom, has written a book about her family’s suffering and how out of that suffering came new life.
Ronnie Londner: “It was both dangerous in some ways to myself because I think it hurt me in some ways to do it, but I also had to do it.”
“Unstoppable Heart” tracks Mikey’s eight short years, his determination to deal with his physical disabilities and the impact of the decision to donate his organs.
In Ohio, a little boy named Nick got Mikey’s heart and it saved his life. Years later, Ronnie met Nick and something amazing happened: She heard Mikey’s heartbeat again.
Ronnie Londner: “I’m hearing Mikey’s heartbeat 20 years after he died and — it was overwhelming, and it’s still overwhelming to think about it.”
And then she got to feed Nick’s daughter, Micayla — named for Mikey.
The entire family embraced Ronnie, with Nick’s grandfather giving her a special necklace.
Ronnie Londner: “Which is two hearts in one heart, and he put it on and it was something very precious. This is Nick and Mikey and everything together.”
Today, Nick has two children. His is a family that might never have been.
Ronnie Londner: “The organ is going to not do anybody any good if it’s buried or cremated. Let it live. Let it go on.”
And she hopes that message is the main takeaway from “Unstoppable Heart.”
Ronnie Londner: “It could really save lives. Isn’t that wonderful if it could? And I hope very much that it will encourage people.”
For the Londner family, life went on without Mikey, but then sadly changed again after Mark got sick.
The losses are hard to describe, but Ronnie has come through with her heart still strong.
Ronnie Londner: “If you don’t love, you don’t live. We take a chance when we love, but my God, to not live by not loving, how can you protect yourself from that? Don’t you dare!”
Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
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