The fifteenth birthday is particularly special for every girl: In Latin American families, this day is celebrated with a feast known as 'Quinceañera'. Monique Salinas was pleased with everything on this day. She lives with her family in Benavides, Texas, in the US.
Monique's family had had a difficult past. Ten years earlier, Monique's borther, Mikey, died in a car accident. Monique, who was just 5 at the time, misses him terribly every day.
At the time, her parents decided that despite their grief their son's death should not be in vain. So they willingly donated his organs.
In doing so, they saved the life of a young girl they didn't even know: Aubrey Reeves, who was just 8 years old. Aubrey suffered from a congenital heart disease. At the time of Mikey's death, her body had already rejected two hearts. The fact that her body and Mikey's heart was a perfect match really is a miracle. They also transplanted his kidneys. Today, Aubrey is 18 years old and can live a healthy, normal life.
The donation was anonymous in that Aubrey never knew who she could thank for her life. Even Mikey's family was not aware if the transplant had been a success or not. It was ten years after the organ donation that the personal details of Aubrey were first sent to Mikey's parents. Then they came up with an idea: they invited Aubrey and her mother to the 15th birthday of their daughter, Monique.
Monique didn't say anything. She was incredibly excited about her Quinceañera, but she was also sad that her brother couldn't be there.
Aubrey and her mother had to drive 10 hours to finally meet the family, who gave Aubrey a second chance at life. Initially they stood unnoticed amidst the crowd. Then, Monique's parents gave away the secret: The heart of Monique's dead brother, Mikey, is in the middle of the room, and is alive and beating in the chest of a young girl. When Monique realized that the person who received her brother's heart was there, she broke into tears.
As Aubrey approaches them, there's no holding back. The two girls and Monique's mom Melissa embrace each other in tears.
For Monique this is an incredible surprise: when she gave Aubrey a hug she could feel the heart of her brother beating. Her brother is in fact at her 15th birthday, because although Mikey died, he lives on in Aubrey. Nobody had expected that.
Aubrey and Monique say that it was sibling-love at first sight. And Aubrey promised Monique that she will always be there if she needs her.
Monique is unbelievably thankful to have Mikey at her 15th birthday and to get to know her new "sister" Aubrey at the same time.
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These families will always have a connection. It's so amazing that Mikey's parents decided way back then to give the gift of life to another child just as they lost their own son.
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