Woman has emotional meeting with family of heart donor

Posted at 8:44 AM, Jul 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-16 08:44:45-04

Adelia Harris and Sharon Schwabenbauer are not related, at least in the biological sense.  But there is a very special connection between them.

After a healthy childhood, Harris became very ill as a young adult.

"My heart was that of a 98 year-old woman about to die," she says.

In 2012, two weeks after her birthday, she got a call that there was a heart available for her.

It was one of four organs donated by Brad Schwabenbauer's son, Joshua.  The Lauderhill firefighter was involved in an off-duty accident that ultimately took his life.  His parents said he became an organ donor not long before he passed.

"If he didn't do that, we wouldn't be here now, none of this would have happened," his father said.

It was an emotional scene on Saturday at the St. Lucie County Tax Collector's Office as Joshua's family took turns with a stethoscope, listening to Joshua's heart inside Adelia.

"As a mother, you lose one but you see another mother with her child and it's a good feeling," Joshua's mother said.

Harris doesn't refer to Joshua as her donor.

"I like to say giver of life.  Someone who has given me a second chance at life," she says.

Adelia says she now gets to do things she couldn't before and also gets to go on new adventures she'll share with Joshua and her new second family.

"I'll take care of Joshua, just like he's taking care of me," she says.

The St. Lucie County Tax Collector's Office is a big supporter of the "Donate Life" Florida program, which is an effort to get Floridians to register as organ donors.