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'He lived life to the fullest': Mother of organ donor meets the recipient of her son's heart

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Jun 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-03 23:47:11-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo — A mother from New York has traveled all the way to Kansas City to meet the recipient of her son’s heart. 26-year-old Josh Streeter donated his organs after complications from an ATV crash took his life in 2021.

Streeter’s mother, Erica Stanford, found out earlier this year that the recipient of her son’s heart lives in Olathe, Kansas. The news felt surreal as Streeter’s aunt, Erin Streeter, lives in the Kansas City-area.

“He was my first born. He made me a mom. He was a great kid — very rambunctious. He lived life to the fullest. He lived life like it was his last day, and that’s how he wanted everyone to live,” said Stanford.

The two families met for the first time at the Midwest Network’s Annual “Donate Life Legacy Walk". It was a special moment for both Streeter’s mother and the organ recipient, Bob Smith.

“I am very grateful for the fact that you decided to make the gift of life available to me — for donating the heart, your heart. And giving me an opportunity to spend more time with my family,” Smith said.

Smith was diagnosed with congestive heart failure around 2019. It was a slow process, but one that ultimately put his life on the line. Despite efforts to save his heart through a mitral valve clip procedure, he suffered a cardiogenic shock and had to be put on a transplant list.

Smith and Streeter underwent the transplant on Thanksgiving Day.

“I’m very appreciative to the fact that he decide to be an organ donor and we didn’t have to make that choice for him. And he saved four lives. If I remember right, four lives. So we’re really grateful to be here and to meet his heart recipient,” said Stanford.


Smith says he will dedicate the second chapter of his life to honoring Streeter’s gift. To give back, he is going through the process of attaining certification for counseling so he can help other families who are struggling.

Smith and his wife Linda decided to walk in the Midwest Network’s Annual “Donate Life Legacy Walk” not only to honor Streeter’s life, but also to raise awareness about the importance of getting people on the donor list.

“My life would have probably been far less quality and I don’t know that I’d be here today if I hadn’t received a transplant,” said Smith. “Part of my story, and it’s my testimony, is that two people had to die for me to be here today. My lord Jesus Christ and my heart donor, Joshua Streeter."