A year ago they didn't know one another.
Now they sit on the steps of the Patterson Park Pagoda having a heart to heart talk. At 55, Susan Adcock’s heart was broken. She needed a transplant.
"I received news a hero came into my life,” Adcock said.
Her hero was Jeremy Michael Baran, a 24-year-old Crofton man. The doctor came out and delivered the news.
"He told me he was not going to come back," Denise Wagner said.
His heartbroken mom said he died of a drug overdose.
“I wanted somebody else to be able to use these organs. Everything was in perfect shape,” Wagner said.
Little did Wagner know her son was already a donor. Little did Adcock know who gave her life.
“Someone lost their life for me to be here,” Adcock said.
So while Adcock sat and recovered in her York, Pennsylvania home, she decided to write a letter to family she didn't know, but knew they were hurting.
“I want you to know that I am so grateful, thankful, humbled and honored,” Adcock said, reading an excerpt from her letter.
A carrier from the Living Legacy Foundation, a non-profit that aids organ and tissue
transplants delivered the letter.
Wagner wrote back.
“We put that difficult decision in God’s hands and knew he would find that special someone who would cherish this most precious gift,” Wagner said, reading her letter aloud.
As their words spilled out of their hearts, filling page after page, this would turn into a rare face-to-face at a 5K event to raise awareness for organ donors.
“The Day of Embrace was just another gift that you just can’t explain. For me to hold her that day was to let her know that her son was here,” Adcock said beating her chest. “I wanted to hug her and I didn’t want to let go of her. I wanted her to feel her son’s heart beating in me. And I wanted to let her know that it was all OK.”
Wagner remembered the day clearly.
“I just cried my heart out. When I hugged her, I could feel his heart beating inside and I didn’t want to let her go because I felt like I still had a part of him,” Wagner said.
And now they are closer than friends, closer than sisters.
“It’s more than a friendship. We’re family. She’s my family,” Adcock said.
Wagner needed to make sure that the person who received her son’s heart was deserving of it and would treat it with care.
“And God gave me that,” she said.
They both gave each other heart shaped necklaces, which they never take off. They challenge each other to eat right, exercise. They are each other’s rock.
“She has got me through some rough times,” Wagner said. “If I had to hand pick it, she would’ve been the one I hand chose.”
Strangers a year ago are now two moms with one loving heart in common.
Denise and Susan’s story is so special and unique but sadly not every family waiting for a transplant has been so fortunate.
Right now there are 3,000 people in Maryland waiting for a lifesaving organ.
While nearly 100 percent of people surveyed said they support organ donation only about 5 out of 10 are signed up to save a life. Experts question if the MVA still the place where we should have people registering for organ donation.