Sixteen-year-old Caleb Beaver died last year on Christmas day. It was sudden -- according to the Associated Press, his parents didn't even know their son was sick until he suffered two strokes in the two days before his death. For the next eight months, Caleb's grief-stricken mother, April Beaver, wished she could feel close to her son again.
"I was talking to God and crying out and I asked God to let me have a dream or something," April told WLOX about one particularly difficult night. The next day, her prayers were answered in a letter from Charles Shelton, a psychiatrist from Kentucky who received Caleb's heart through organ donation. Shelton wanted to thank the Beaver family in person.
Caleb had arteriovenous malformation, a condition which causes defects in the circulatory system, the Associated Press reports, and the Beavers were in Arkansas visiting family when he got sick. After he had two strokes, Caleb was declared brain dead. He was on life support for two days before his parents agreed to let him go. They decided to donate his heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas and skin tissue.
"That's what Caleb would have wanted," April told WLOX.
Two months earlier, Shelton had been diagnosed with an inflammatory disease, the AP reports, and was waiting in a Lexington hospital for a donor. He received Caleb's heart on December 26.
The Beavers received Shelton's letter in June, and made plans to host him, his wife and two sons in Mississippi, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
And, last Thursday, they finally got together. When the Sheltons arrived at the airport, April ran up to hug Charles. She listened to his heart with a stethoscope, and WLOX caught the emotional moment on camera.
"It's real," April said.
"That's Caleb," Shelton assured her and she responded,"It's true," fighting through the tears to speak.
Shelton told the news outlet that he wanted to meet the Beaver family because "It's a miracle, it's amazing and I'm back, I'm even better than I had been three or four years ago." Now that they've met in person, the Beavers and Sheltons feel forever bonded.
"We're family," Shelton said.