"I just lost it," Adrian Murry says—not of the day she lost her son in a workplace accident, but of the day she found out his heart went to a family member. When 25-year-old Kendrick Murry died from a head injury in September 2015, his mother learned he was an organ donor and ensured a kidney was given to the pastor at her Mississippi church, who was battling end-stage renal failure, reports WDAM. But unbeknownst to Murry, her own cousin had been waiting for a heart transplant for nearly two years. Murry tells WDAM she would see Clintoria Johnson at family events with tubes on her nose, but "I didn’t know what she needed. I really didn't know what was wrong." Shortly after Kendrick's death, however, Johnson received a 25-year-old heart and relatives started to suspect that it was Kendrick's.
"They were like, 'You know Clintoria went to the hospital, and I'm kind of thinking that's Kendrick,'" Murry says. To find out, "I was told I had to write a letter and sign a release. It took me awhile to get to that point, but I said for Mother's Day, that's what I wanted to know," she says. Johnson agreed to find out the name of her donor and the news arrived just a day before Kendrick's birthday. It confirmed what the family had suspected: his heart had gone to Johnson. "I was hollering and screaming … It just came at a perfect time," says Murry. "It was like that was his birthday gift, but to me. It was a pretty good Mother's Day." Murry and Johnson have since grown much closer. "I call her my son sometimes, my daughter," says Murry. "It means a lot to me," adds Johnson. "I'm just happy [the heart is] in the family." (Read more Mississippi stories.)