It’s a sound Vickie Moore said she will never forget.
“It is so strong and steady just like Haley,” she said.
Tears of joy filled her eyes as she listened to the familiar pitter-patter. She heard this heartbeat for the first time years ago through an ultrasound while she was pregnant with Haley. Decades later she listened to her daughter’s heart again, but it was beating inside of Anne Campbell’s chest.
Tragedy Transformed Through Love
Seventeen-year-old Haley Moore was transported to UF Health Jacksonville on Aug. 2, 2007, after a car accident. She was placed on life support and declared brain-dead the following day.
“It was the hardest decision I ever had to make,” Vickie Moore said. “I didn’t know how I would feel about my daughter’s organs living on long after Haley was gone.”
Today she has no doubt she made the right choice. Haley’s heart, pancreas, liver, lungs and both of her kidneys went on to save six lives. Vickie has met three of the six recipients.
“Losing a child is a hurt you can never explain, but knowing six other families won’t have to feel that pain is truly tremendous,” Vickie Moore said.
Thousands of miles away, Anne Campbell struggled with a rare heart disorder for 13 years before she received her second chance. Her condition caused an irregular heartbeat that left her practically bedridden.
“I couldn’t work. I couldn’t walk without getting fatigued. My life came to a standstill because my heart was so weak,” Campbell said.
The mother of three was a long distance runner, but she put away her sneakers years earlier because of her heart. On Aug. 5, 2007, she got the call she was waiting for, and after open heart surgery woke up to a new life.
Campbell almost immediately returned to running, breaking three records and winning a gold medal in the 2009 World Transplant Gold Coast Games in Australia.
“That was a victory for Haley and her family,” Campbell said.
Tree of Life Ceremony
On April 25, 2017, the mothers reunited during the Eighth Annual Tree of Life Ceremony hosted by UF Health Jacksonville. The event is held every year in April to honor the patients and families who made the decision to donate their organs.
“Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national donor registry. Twenty-two people die every day in the United States waiting for an organ to become available,” said Patrice Jones, chief nursing officer.
The names of UF Health Jacksonville patients who donated organs are added to the Tree of Life mural. This year, 21 names were added — 19 on leaves and two on butterflies — completing the mural. The first names of adult patients who donated organs are engraved on the leaves, and the names of the children who donated are engraved on the butterflies.
“Of the 80 organs that were donated by these patients in 2016, 53 were transplanted to patients locally at Mayo Clinic and UF Health Shands in Gainesville,” said Danielle Cornell, executive director of LifeQuest Donor Services.
April is Donate Life Month and organizers hope stories like Haley Moore and Anne Campbell show the importance of organ donation and encourage others to become organ donors.
“Haley has done more in her 17 years than most of us can do in a lifetime,” said Moore. “Her memory and legacy lives on through Anne and the other five people who received her organs.”
Every organ donor can save up to eight people and improve up to 50 lives, with tissue, bone and cornea donation. Register to become an organ donor by visiting DonateLifeFlorida.org.