This N.S. woman who had a heart transplant is meeting the donor’s family

Two years after a heart transplant saved her life, Monique Pelletier of Timberlea, N.S., is going to meet the donor’s family.

Next month, 18 members of the Krieger family will travel from Alberta to Wolfville, N.S., to meet with Pelletier.

“I think it is going to be an amazing experience because she seems like a wonderful, loving, heartfelt woman. We’re so happy, yet we’re nervous,” said Cindy Krieger.

Her daughter, Morghan Krieger, was a music therapy student at Acadia University in Wolfville. The 19-year-old, a Type 1 diabetic, died in Halifax on Jan. 18, 2018. It is her heart now beating inside Pelletier’s chest.

Morghan Krieger was an accomplished vocalist who was known for her free spirit and willingness to help others. Over the 2016 Christmas break, her family worked with an orphanage in Tanzania.

Benefit hockey game

Besides coming to meet Pelletier, the Krieger family will be attending a benefit hockey game, the first annual Krieger Cup Hockey Game, which will take place on Jan. 11, 2020.

Morghan Krieger only went to Acadia for four months, but made many friends. All proceeds from the game will go to the Morghan Krieger Memorial Award, a $1,000 scholarship that goes to a full-time music therapy student in their second or third year.

Morghan Krieger was a music therapy student at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. She was also an organ donor. (Submitted by the Krieger family)

The hockey game will see residents of Cutten House, the residence Krieger lived in at Acadia, play against other students.

The Cutten Titans will be wearing special jerseys with Krieger’s initials sewn into them over their hearts.

Pelletier’s need for a transplant stemmed from a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. It affects about 200,000 Canadians, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and often left Pelletier short of breath. Doctors told her she might not survive.

The jerseys worn by the players from Cutten House, the residence where Morghan Krieger lived, have her initials sewn over the heart. (Submitted by the Krieger family)

Pelletier was put on a heart transplant list and after just one day, she got surprising news.

“I got a call from the nurse transplant co-ordinator that a heart was available and did I wish to accept it,” said Pelletier, who oversees screening agents at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. “I was just in shock.”

The surgery was successful and just four months later, Pelletier took part in a 5K race at the 2018 Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax.

She now goes for walks regularly with her new dog and is in good overall health.

Monique Pelletier, left, with her partner, Jessica LeBlanc. Pelletier says her life has completely changed since getting a new heart nearly two years ago. (Submitted by Monique Pelletier)

One year ago, Pelletier still didn’t know whose heart was beating inside her. She desperately wanted to thank the family of the donor, so she wrote an emotional letter to the organ care centre.

It wasn’t long before Pelletier was connected with Cindy Krieger of Calgary.

“It’s just awesome to know that someone is still living with our daughter’s heart,” said Krieger. “I kept believing it and our dream has come true.”

She said someone is also benefiting from her daughter’s donated lungs.

An impassioned plea

Pelletier, who will also be at the hockey game, has this message for people who are not currently organ donors.

“It makes the difference between life and death and if you can help someone save their life, then do it,” said Pelletier as she fought back tears.

“There are a lot of people who are stuck on the waiting list and they’re struggling with their life, but once you have passed, your organs can save six to eight people, so why wouldn’t you want to do that?”

Legislation is currently in the works for Nova Scotia that will make the province the first jurisdiction in North America to have presumed consent for organ and tissue donation.

People will still be able to opt out of donating their organs, but the onus will be on them to do so once the bill is proclaimed.


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