Donor gives mother gift of life

abc27 first introduced you to Yanira Barona on Valentine's Day in 2012.

“I remember when I met you. I was in here waiting for a heart. I was at the end stages of heart failure,” Barona said.

The then-40-year-old mother of two had already spent 48 days at Penn State Hershey Medical Center; one of 8,000 Pennsylvanians at the time waiting for an organ transplant.

She ended up getting a heart pump and shared this before our camera left:

“I was diagnosed in 2000. They told me I had five years to live. I'm still here and I still have more to go. God hears my plans and He knows He's got a purpose and a plan for me, and this is not it,” she said.

Flash forward 20 months later to 2013. Barona's prayers were answered.

“I got the call on November 6th. We headed calmly up here from the Lehigh Valley, and when I got here: 'we have the perfect heart for you,' ” she said.

As she prepared for surgery, Life Lion delivered a lifesaving gift.

“My sister got footage of the helicopter coming in,” she said. “She happened to be outside when the helicopter came in with the heart.”

After about eight hours in the operating room, Barona awoke with a new feeling of life.

“With the heart pump, I didn't have a heartbeat. That was the first thing I noticed when I woke up, that I felt a strong heartbeat,” she said.

Barona felt an instant connection to the person who gave her the gift of life.

“I know that he was a 26-year-old male, and that is all that I know. Although he passed on and it's very sad, he's brought me life and for me to continue on with my children,” she said.

“I am so grateful for their gift. It's immeasurable, that I can't express. I always promised myself there is nothing I would ever do to hurt this heart; protect it and cherish it. It's just priceless.”

Barona wears a gold heart next to her human one; never forgetting the compassion that will allow her to watch daughter graduate from high school, her son finish college, and live a life filled with endless possibilities.

“It was an incredible journey as far as strength and endurance,” she said. “I didn't think I was as strong as I was. You never know. But God never gives you more than you can handle.”

Baron's entire family has family signed up to become donors and she urges everyone to do so.

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