When she was 13, Lentini started feeling stomach pains and was sent to the hospital for a medical examination. After a few failed tests, she was diagnosed with acute cardiomyopathy, a cardiovascular disease that can result in heart failure. She needed a heart transplant badly.
But after waiting for four and a half months, Lentini got a second chance at life.
On July 6, 1996, Lentini received a heart transplant from a total stranger.
Her donor that day, 14-year-old Matthew McIntyre, was fatally wounded by a friend who accidentally shot a .380-caliber handgun, The New York Daily News reports. His mother generously decided to donate her son's organs. His heart found a new home in Lentini's chest.
This winter, Lentini took it upon herself to finally meet her donor's family so she could express her gratitude for their invaluable gift. After 18 years, she managed to trace Vicky Brannon, Matthew's mother, via Facebook and arrange a meeting.
The two met on February 14, which is both Valentine's Day and National Organ Donation Day. Watch this heartfelt video where Brannon hears her late son's heart beat again for the first time in almost two decades.
After receiving her heart transplant in 1996, Lentini became an active advocate of organ donation. She volunteers at schools, works with the New York Organ Donor Network and supports the American Heart Association Heart Walk.
To know more about organ donation and ways you can help, please visit organdonor.gov.
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