On a softball field in Trenton, N.S., Donna Nugent heard her son’s heartbeat for the first time in more than a year.
Nugent’s 23-year-old son, Michael Collier, had died in a car accident in September 2018. Two days after Collier died, teenager Jacob Basque was rushed to hospital with an irregular heartbeat, in desperate need of an emergency heart transplant.
Basque now holds Collier’s heart in his chest, and at a charity softball match this Sunday, Nugent finally met the boy whose life had been saved by her son’s heart.
As soon as she registered the sound of the heartbeat, she was instantly overcome with emotion, but when she spoke to CTV News Atlantic afterwards, she said the tears came from gratitude, not sadness.
“I feel very blessed,” she said. “I finally got to meet Jacob. My heart feels warm right now. Very warm. “
It was a sentiment Basque echoed, calling the meeting “unbelieveable.
“(I’m) just feeling really grateful,“ he said, adding that the charity event helped him gain a better understanding of the man whose heart he now carries with him.
“Coming out here today … you could see how much people really loved (Collier) and cared about him.”
The meeting was held at the annual Dawson’s Christmas Wish Softball Tournament, which was started seven years ago by now 15-year-old Dawson MacKay and his father Freddie.
“It makes everybody feel better, when you help somebody and you give to others,” said MacKay. “It always comes back in return.”
This year’s tournament was dedicated to the memory of Collier, which was fitting in Nugent’s eyes.
“Every year that they’d have this tournament, me and Michael would come down and watch,” she said.
She added that her son was “very giving.”
Basque’s is not the only life to have been saved by Collier. His liver and pancreas were also transplanted into other patients who needed them.
“When he gave his organs — that alone right there, the gift of life — that is what Michael would want,” Nugent said.
The softball tournament was projected to raise around $3,000, which will go towards local Christmas gifts, food and other amenities for local families in need.
Basque and Nugent embraced on the field after she listened to his heartbeat.
Basque said recovery from the transplant has been “tough,” but that he’s “finally playing hockey,” again, making sure not to waste the new lease on life that Collier’s heart has given him.
With a report from CTV News Atlantic’s Allan April