OMAHA, Neb. (WSVN) — After receiving the gift of life, a South Florida man finally had the opportunity to say thank you to the donor’s family.
Richard Arce traveled to Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday to meet those with whom he shares a special bond: a family born out of a heart transplant.
Moments after he touched down, Arce anxiously crossed a terminal and hugged Brian Cabello.
“He received our daughter’s heart,” said Cabello.
“I joke with people and say, ‘I’m part woman,’ and they look at me [like I’m] crazy, and I go, ‘Yeah, yeah,'” said Arce, “and when I explain it to them, they’re in shock, too. They can’t believe it.”
Cameras captured the moment Cabello was able to listen to the heart of his daughter Nicolina through a stethoscope.
The two families, first brought together by circumstance, had been planning the visit for years.
“They’re meeting their daughter, again, and I’m meeting like a mom and dad,” said Arce.
But their embrace was put on hold for years because of COVID.
It was a joyful and poignant moment.
“It’s just kind of hard for me, too, ’cause she suffered from [post-traumatic stress disorder], and so do I,” said Arce.
The Cabello family described Nicolina as a vibrant, kind and caring 32-year-old who served in the Army. She died in 2018.
“She’s with me every single day, wherever I go, whatever I do,” said Arce.
“Whoever gets her heart is going to be blessed, because she had a really good heart,” said another family member.
Even though it was a bittersweet moment for the Cabellos, they said they are happy to have a new family member.
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