METAIRIE, La. – It is a hug that only two mothers can fully comprehend.
“You have this family picture that is no longer real. It's different, it's not what it was,” is how Andrea Blakemore explains the loss.
In May 2005, her child Dougie, a spunky, athletic 4-year-old boy, was hit and killed by a car. His liver was transplanted into a young Japanese boy, saving his life.
Recently, the Japanese family flew to Louisiana for a surreal meeting with the people who provided their son his second chance, through an organ donation.
The Japanese family is very private and didn't want to be interviewed or have their faces shown. The Blakemores couldn't believe they would have the chance to see in person what their son had passed on.
“It is exhilarating,” Andrea said. “I can't even express the words. We get to experience a miracle. It's the most amazing gift of life.”
The young man brought with him a note for the Blakemores, in hopes of expressing his gratitude and sorrow for what they lost.
"This is a family heirloom,” Doug Blakemore told him. “We'll pass it down to our families.”
The Blakemores reassured him not to feel the guilt that naturally comes with a situation like this.
"We lost one, and you gained one, and we're happy for that,” Doug Blakemore told the family. “Our whole family is very, very happy for you. We're very happy that he's alive and looks like he's doing pretty good.”
A Japanese film crew accompanied the family to Louisiana, documenting their story with the hopes of encouraging more organ donors.
And although they didn't speak each other's language, the two families shared pictures and stories. The Blakemores told their new friends stories of who little Dougie was, content in their hearts that he lives on in another, half a world away.
For more information on becoming an organ donor or bone marrow donor, as part of WWL-TV’s Perfect Match program supporting Sally-Ann & Robin Roberts, click here.