Emotional meeting for Niagara County heart transplant recipient

ROCHESTER, NY (WIVB) — No doubt, hearts were beating a little faster during an emotional meeting Saturday in Rochester.

The heart that beats inside the chest of 66 year old Claude Brown of Burt, Niagara County, was born beating inside the chest of Ricky Wieland.  His parents, Debbie and Rick Wieland, traveled to Rochester from Cincinnati, Ohio, to finally meet the man who received their son’s heart after a fatal car crash four years ago.

“You look wonderful,” Debbie Wieland said to Brown when they met in a hotel conference room.  Brown said, “I’ve got a great heart, believe me.”

The heart transplant has allowed Claude Brown to enjoy seeing many family milestones after suffering from congestive heart failure for years.

“I was able to see three grandchildren born, one wedding, and a lot of fun times with the family,” said a teary-eyed Brown.

Ricky Wieland, a 22 year old Ohio National Guardsman had told his parents he wanted to be an organ donor.  After the accident, his parents alerted the hospital about Ricky’s wishes.  His organs went on to give life to seven other people.

Both families met again on Sunday in Genesee Valley Park for the 5K River Run/Walk which supports organ donation at the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital. Organizers says New York ranks last in the nation for participation in organ donation.  They hope seeing the gift of life shared in this way will resonate with all potential donors.

Debbie Wieland had the opportunity to listen to the heart beating in Claude Brown’s chest.  She said, “That’s music to my ears.” Claude Brown said, “It was to mine, too, the first day I heard it.”

To become an organ donor, fill out the Donate Life Registry Form.  And, those handling transplant services say the most important step is to tell your family that you wish to be a donor.

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