Mother hears daughter's heartbeat in donor recipient - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mother hears daughter's heartbeat in donor recipient

Posted: Updated: Nov 21, 2011 09:39 AM EST

MEADE COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's an old saying that every ending leads to the beginning of something new.

For Cathy Mattingly and Elzierine Powell those words couldn't be more true. Their journey began in 2009 on a rural road in Meade County. That's the site of a crash that changed their lives forever.

"When you're coming down this hill there's a sharp curve and there was snow on the road and she lost control," Mattingly said.

Mattingly was describing how her daughter, Carissa Foushee, slammed head-on into a truck on December 7th, 2009. Foushee's 2-year-old daughter, Addie, and 6-year-old son, Rance, were in the car.

The family was crossing Campbell's Bridge on the way to Mattingly's house. It was a trip they'd taken every day since Foushee sister, Samarah Clemons, kept the kids while she went to work.

"It was just so weird because everything for me that morning was just going to smoothly," Clemons said.

The children were killed instantly in the crash, and Foushee was in bad shape.

"They took her into surgery and brought her back out and as the time went on her brain started to swell," Mattingly said. "When I first saw her I knew that she did not want to be like that. I told her go on with her babies."

As the family prepared to let go, Elzierine Powell, suffering from a heart condition, was about to do the same.

"You got to understand it didn't just start in '09 it started in 1998," Powell said.

Powell had been suffering with Cardiomyopathy for years.

"My heart was dying, just being eaten away," Powell said. 

In 2009 Powell was on the transplant list but her heart wasn't beating on its own. An electronic device pumped her blood but there it caused an infection that the doctors couldn't heal.

"At that point I was just about ready to give up, just give up," Powell said. "I was ready to die."

Foushee was dying just as Powell was letting go.

"We knew she wanted to donate her organs," Mattingly said.

With the help of KODA, Foushee donated her kidneys, liver and heart.

Powell got Foushee's heart, and she is forever grateful.

"A second chance at life, there's no way to describe that," Powell said. "I could say every word you might be able to come up with but you would never know.

"She [Foushee], is still living on and it's just wonderful," Mattingly said.

The family always wondered who got Foushee's organs. They heard from the kidney recipient but Powell wouldn't respond to their letters. She says it's because she felt guilty that someone had to die to keep her alive.

"It's because I knew someone had to die in order for me to live and that was a really hard thing to me," Powell said. "There was a whole lot of things in my head like would they be looking for her in me, would I smile the same way she did and if I didn't would they be hurt or disappointed?"

Powell says she finally put her reservations aside after two years because she felt Foushee's family deserved to know. And for a moment, at a KODA event on a cold Saturday morning in Iroquois park, Mattingly placed a stethoscope to Powell's chest and heard her daughter's heartbeat again.

Both women wept and Mattingly thanked Powell for giving her another chance to hear her daughter's heart.

"No -- thank Carissa," Powell said.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing 112,700 people are waiting on a national transplant list and 800 of them are from Kentucky. The very same day Cathy Mattingly's daughter passed away she registered along with her three daughters to become an organ donor.

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