On journey to save husband from COVID, woman unexpectedly meets late daughter's heart recipient

A woman’s fierce love for her husband saved his life. 

We first introduced you to Robby and Susan Walker in September. Robby was on his death bed after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator. 

Doctors said there was nothing they could do for him, which prompted his wife, Susan, to begin a nationwide search for an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to help his heart and lungs function.

That search saved her husband, and it also reunited her with a special part of her daughter who passed away a few years ago. 

Robby and Susan Walker smiled while telling us about their daughter, Kalynn. Kalynn was the middle child of six, 25-years-old, newly engaged, and had so much life ahead of her.

"She had a big soul, a big heart," Susan said.

Susan and Kalynn were very close and even worked together. When Kalynn left the office one day in March of 2019, Susan didn’t know it would be the last time.

"As she walked by, I smacked her on the butt and she turned around and looked at me and I said I know, don’t touch the butt. And she said you can touch my butt momma any time. [That’s the] only time she’s ever said that to me," Susan said.

Hours later, Kalynn’s fiancé called Susan to tell her she had fainted at the gym and was heading to the hospital.

"They thought she was having a seizure," Susan said.

Doctors said Kalynn had a brain aneurysm and would not survive. In an instant, Susan went from planning her daughter’s wedding to planning her funeral.

"We had just went and had her sized for her dress. I actually picked her dress up a week after she passed."

Despite her tragic death, Kalynn still had life left to give. She donated seven organs, including both lungs, kidneys, and heart, saving five lives. Counselors told Robby and Susan they probably would not know who received Kalynn’s organs, but three months later, they got a phone call. The woman who received Kalynn’s heart had written them a letter.

"I read the letter and I learned that she called herself Chas and I learned that she was also 25-years-old," Susan said.

Chas lives in New York. She gave birth to her son a few months before Kalynn died and needed a heart transplant because of a condition she developed after delivery.

"I learned that her favorite color was yellow. My daughter’s favorite color was yellow," Susan said. "In a letter in exchange, of course, we laughed about it, but I told her how Kailyn listened to country music and she loved horses."

They became penpals, Facebook friends and started talking on the phone. Susan planned a trip to meet Chas, but the pandemic got in the way.

"It scared us that Covid was going to keep us from being able to meet her and listen to Kalynn’s heartbeat," Susan said.

Until COVID brought those plans back to life.  Robby got very sick with the coronavirus in July. He needed an ECMO, which is a machine to help his heart and lungs survive. Susan contacted more than 150 hospitals with no luck until a doctor in New England saw an interview about Susan’s mission to save her husband and reached out to help. 

The couple raced to Connecticut for the treatment, and when Robby eventually started to recover, it hit Susan.

"It dawned on me how close I was to Chas. And the silver lining of us going to Connecticut, not just to save Robby’s life, but was to meet Kalynn’s heart recipient too."

Chas drove from New York to meet Susan in Connecticut, and let her hear her daughter’s heartbeat one more time. Susan feels like meeting Chas has reunited her with her daughter in a way she never thought was possible.

"I know she still lives in spirit, but she still lives in somebody else, and she’s living now inside of Chas. And Chas has a part of her," Susan said.

Susan is overwhelmed with emotion when she thinks about the circumstances that brought her and Kalynn’s hearts back together.

Robby was still in the hospital and was not able to meet Chas. Chas plans to visit Florida soon and the Walkers plan to continue a relationship with her throughout the years.

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