Maddy’s Story: A Heart Reunited 

Donor mom, Sadi Workman, embraces Dylan Richard, her daughter's heart recipient.

On September 28, 2001, Madalynn Lowry entered the world with ten perfect fingers, ten perfect toes, and a perfectly steady heartbeat. On Dec. 3, soon after her mother had gone back to work, baby Maddy tragically became the victim of shaken baby syndrome.  

“They kept her alive for five days because nobody knew what happened to her,” said Maddy’s mother, Sadi Workman. “My husband wasn’t forthcoming with any of what happened, he just said that she turned blue and wasn’t breathing.”  

Although Maddy’s brain injury occurred on Dec. 3, she was declared brain dead on Dec. 6. In a remarkable display of compassion and resilience, Sadi made the selfless decision to donate her daughter’s organs. 

Baby Maddy

“I didn’t want another mom to go through what I was going through,” said Sadi. “If I could give that mom her baby, I’d rather do that than have us both lose one.”  

Almost two months after Maddy’s birth, another child, Dylan Richard, entered the world on Nov. 23, 2001. Shortly after birth, he received a diagnosis of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital condition impacting normal blood circulation through the heart. 

“We were told he would need a heart transplant to survive, and he would need to be put on life support while he was waiting,” said his mother, Enid Torres. “His heart just couldn’t keep up.”  

As Dylan struggled to live, his mother struggled with what a lifesaving transplant would mean for someone else. 

“I suffered with the knowledge that in order for my baby to live, he would need another’s heart,” said Enid. “We are only born with one heart, and the guilt of it all was so much to bear.” 

On Dec. 7, 2001, baby Dylan’s life was saved by 2-month-old Madalynn Lowry. In addition to her heart, Maddy’s liver and small intestine were also donated. Years passed before Sadi sought updates on the recipients of her daughter’s organs, inspired by the birth of her son and driven by a deep desire to know that Maddy’s gifts had made a difference. 

“After I got pregnant with my son Douglas, I started realizing the magnitude of what I did,” said Sadi. “I was trying to survive, trying to live one day at a time, but I was numb. My son’s father helped me through my daughter’s death — we were friends in the Marine Corps. I struggled a lot with mental health, but my son’s father saved my life and my son kept me alive.”  

In 2005, Sadi contacted HonorBridge and was informed that Maddy’s liver recipient and small bowel recipient had passed away. Additionally, the transplant center had lost contact with Maddy’s heart recipient, leaving them unable to provide an update. Despite the devastating news, Sadi was undeterred. Every year, on or around Dec. 7, she continued to seek updates.  

“In 2014, Sadi reached out again requesting an update on the heart recipient,” said Christina Godfrey, Family Resource Specialist at HonorBridge. “I had been working there for four months and wanted to do everything possible to try to help and answer her questions. I reached out to the heart recipient’s transplant center and was told that the recipient had transferred his care, and so they were unable to provide an update on how he was doing. I reached out to my Family Services contact at the local Organ Procurement Organization, LifeLink Florida, and they were able to get an update for me that the recipient was alive and well.” 

Armed with this new information, Workman waited a few years before sending the recipient and his family a card in December 2018.  

“We were so happy to finally get the name of the donor baby and to know more about the family,” said Enid. “I always wanted to hug the mother that gave my son a chance and to tell her I’m sorry she suffered the loss of her baby. To tell her the selfless act of her decision was one of the bravest sacrifices she could have made, and the positive impact it caused has rippled across many lives. Dylan wasn’t emotionally ready to reply back to Sadi — and as much as I wanted to reach out, I had to respect Dylan’s pace.” 

In July 2022, Sadi once again reached out to Godfrey to inquire about the status of Maddy’s heart recipient and to extend an invitation for them to attend her upcoming retirement ceremony from the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, tracking down Dylan a second time proved a bit more difficult, as his original coordinator had left their position. After many phone calls and follow-ups, Godfrey’s persistence finally paid off.   

“I learned that Dylan had not had an appointment in quite some time and they had been unable to reach him by phone,” said Godfrey. “In Dec. 2022, I followed up hoping that Dylan might have scheduled an appointment. He had recently been in and was doing well, and they got permission from Dylan for his name and phone number to be shared with me.” 

After speaking with Godfrey, 21-year-old Dylan was finally ready to contact his donor’s mother. Consent forms were signed, and on Dec. 21, 2022, Godfrey mailed both Sadi and Dylan a letter that provided the name, address, phone number, and email address for the other. 

“I remember I was at work, and I was sitting in the bathroom hysterically crying, terrified to open this letter from this kid that held all the information that I so wanted to know,” recalled Sadi. “It was all in slow motion — I couldn’t believe that it was real.” 

About a week later, Sadi received a message from Dylan’s mother on Facebook. After 21 long years, she finally had the opportunity to speak with Enid and hear about the profound impact that Maddy’s gift had on their lives. 

“It was peaceful to hear that my daughter didn’t really die; she’s still there,” said Sadi. “Her life has all this meaning, and she got to do all of these things through Dylan.”  

Sadi’s first interaction with Dylan was on FaceTime. Despite the flood of tears and conflicting emotions, she describes experiencing a profound sense of calm upon seeing his face. “It was like I had known him my whole life,” she said.  

Once the conversation began, it never really ended. Facetimes turned into daily text messages and phone calls, and both Dylan and his mother received an invitation to attend Workman’s retirement ceremony in New Orleans. 

We booked our flight and hotel, but we didn’t tell Sadi anything,” said Dylan. “Her mom knew we were coming, but she didn’t, so it was a whole surprise. We went to her house a day before the ceremony, because to do it on the actual day would have been a lot for her to handle.”  

On July 6, 2023, Madalynn’s Lowry’s heart finally came home — and nothing could have prepared Sadi for the complicated mix of emotions the moment would bring.   

“When I saw Dylan, I was brought back to the last day I held my daughter,” said Sadi. “I couldn’t stand up. I listened to the heart, and it sounded the same as it did when she was born. It’s like it never went away.”  

In that poignant moment, amidst tears of gratitude and embraces filled with unspoken understanding, Sadi, Dylan, and their families found solace in each other’s presence. Sadi also experienced a mix of grief, sorrow, and anger that she feels it’s important to acknowledge and talk about.  

“It brought up emotions that I hadn’t felt before and that I really had to navigate,” said Workman. “It’s been really, really challenging. Ever since I met Dylan, the hole in my chest is gone. I’m able to sleep, and I don’t have nightmares and flashbacks anymore. I’m really happy. But then I have this whole other side where it’s extremely overwhelming and I feel angry. So that’s been difficult.”  

Sadi Workman and Dylan Richard

For Dylan, visits with his “second mom” feel like a homecoming. Since their initial meeting, he has returned twice and intends to go again at the earliest opportunity. 

“When I first met her back in July I wanted to cry with her, but I just couldn’t,” said Dylan. “It’s like she cried for me. She always feels like family, every time I see her, and I feel like Maddy is always around us. In a way, I feel like I’m living for Maddy. I try to be the best person I can and always do the right thing. I just try to live my life, be happy, do good things, and make my life and this heart count.”  

For Dylan’s mother, meeting Sadi in person was truly an honor. “I cannot put into words how humbled and grateful I am to have met the courageous woman who restored my faith in a higher power and gave me the privilege of being called mommy,” said Enid. “Sadi, thank you, and I’m so sorry. I hope we both find healing and joy in knowing that Maddy’s life was not in vain. Her heart is very much still beating and going strong.”  

Thanks to Sadi’s decision to donate Maddy’s organs, a life was saved, and two families became one — proving that even in the darkest of times, love has the power to unite and heal. 

“When I see Dylan, it’s like he’s home,” said Sadi. “When he’s here in my house he feels safe, loved, and accepted. He feels like this is where he’s meant to be. I truly believe that my daughter was only brought here to bring Dylan his heart — and that gives me a bit of peace.”