When Indiana woman Kara Mellick made the difficult decision to donate her deceased baby's organs, she knew she would be helping another child heal. This week, three years after the death of her daughter Karlie, Mellick got a chance to meet the recipient of her daughter's heart and said that seeing the little boy thrive has helped her find some peace.
As thanks for Mellick's activism in fighting child abuse, Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville spent $2,500 to fly Mellick and her mother Allison to Chicago so that they could meet Faris Samara, a 3-year-old boy who received the life-saving heart transplant when he was just 11 months old, the Louisville Courier Journal reports.
That heart once belonged to Mellick's daughter Karlie, who was 9 months old when she was fatally beaten by Mellick's former housemate Matthew Vaughn, who is now serving a 17-year prison sentence.
When Mellick put a stethoscope up to Faris' chest on Tuesday and heard his heart beating, she said she remembered her pregnancy with Karlie and what it was like to hear her daughter's heartbeat for the first time.
"I feel [Karlie] is still living. She is not gone," Mellick, 23, told the Courier Journal. "Her body is gone, but her heart is still there."
Sam Samara, Faris' mother, said the meeting brought her a measure of closure as well, because she is constantly reminded of Mellick's heartbreak.
“I want Kara to know that what she did is so brave," Samara, 41, told the Courier Journal. "I want her to know that her child will always be an angel for us. We feel Karlie is such a part of our family."
Kara Mellick has spoken often about her child's death and has recently joined a regional public service campaign, sponsored by Kosair Children's Hospital, aimed at preventing child abuse.
In an article about the campaign, Mellick told the Courier Journal that thanks to Faris Samara and the memories she has of her daughter, she's thinking happier thoughts.
"Now, I remember a lot of the good times," Mellick said. "I remember her face. I remember her smile. I think about if she were still here, what she would be like."