Sarah and Jennifer’s Story – A Generous Gift

Michelle listens to Jennifer's heartbeat, the transplanted heart of her sister Sarah

Sarah Griffin was a beautiful, loving, and caring woman. She loved her children and family well. She enjoyed coloring, writing, doodling, and loved teal and bright colors. She proved to be a thoughtful and generous person, by her decision to be a registered organ donor. In April of 2021, Sarah unexpectedly died. Sarah’s sister, Michelle Johnson, agreed to honor Sarah’s decision to be a donor. Sarah saved the lives of four people through her incredible decision to be an organ donor.

On National Donate Life Month’s “Blue and Green Day”, Sarah’s heart was transplanted to Jennifer Mayadas-Dering. Jennifer lives in New York and is an athlete who had spent her life working out and training as a professional racquetball player. She went from working and playing hard, to struggling with health issues in a short period of time.

Incredibly, she’s been able to return to playing racquetball professionally since receiving the transplant. She also continues her hard work as an Engineer and enjoys hiking and adventuring with her husband and two sons. Since the transplant, she and her husband have been able to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Jennifer and her family are so incredibly grateful for Sarah’s gift of life which allows them to continue to share these moments.

Through HonorBridge’s Family Resource Program, Michelle and Jennifer were able to write letters to each other while maintaining their privacy. When they both felt ready to take the next step, they chose to sign paperwork to exchange their direct contact information. They kept in touch and continued to send letters. About a year after receiving her new heart, Jennifer sent a package to each of Sarah’s children – teddy bears each containing a recording of her heartbeat.
About a year and a half following Sarah’s organ donation, the two families decided to meet in North Carolina. On October 29, representatives from HonorBridge had the incredible privilege of introducing the families, who spent the afternoon together exchanging stories, hugs, and very special gifts.