Closings and delays

An emotional reunion to celebrate the gift of life in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio - It was an emotional first meeting that touched many Fox 8 viewers and people around the world.

Amber Travaglio traveled from Cleveland to Atlanta last year to meet the family and child who received her daughters donated heart.

The two moms hugged and sobbed for several minutes.

Fox 8 microphones even picked up the powerful sound of their hearts pounding in unison.

Amber’s daughter, 7-year-old Melody, passed away at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital on July 7, 2015 from an unexplained and sudden asphyxic asthma attack.

“I just remember flailing onto her hospital bed with her and holding her just screaming her name,” said Amber with tears streaming down her cheeks.

About the same time, Ashlyn Richardson’s then 4-year-old daughter Peyton was on life support in Georgia, after a cold virus attacked her heart.

“I never knew a common cold could do that,” said her mother Ashlyn Richardson.

Melody’s beautiful heart saved Peyton’s life and the families became close friends.

Wednesday night they reunited in Cleveland along with another of Melody’s organ recipients.

Melissa Garlej, whose diabetes lead to several organs failing is now healthy, married and raising her own children thanks to Melody’s gift of life kidneys.

She remember seeing Melody’s picture for the first time after getting the kidney transplant.

“When I saw her photo I couldn’t stop crying, she’s this gorgeous, sweetest little thing,” said Melissa. “Best I can do is be the best me so she can live through me.”

They’re all coming together along with a third unnamed recipient for Lifebancs’ annual big event called “The Legacy of Life Experience” that’s being held early Thursday afternoon.

Peyton’s dad, Sidney Richardson, said they were happy to be part of the event and see Amber again, “I consider her a sister.”

“We are here for her and we love her,” added Ashlyn.

All of the families hope people will hear their story and consider becoming an organ donor.

Amber says, not only did it save their lives but it also helped her through some very difficult times.

“I had the ability to provide them hope and to honor Melody at the same time,” said Amber. “When I get to be close to them for a second it’s such an amazing feeling. That saved me in my darkest moments.”

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