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Donor family meets heart recipient for the first time

Posted at 10:13 PM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 23:13:54-04

It is something a parent never wants to experience with their child, having to make the heartbreaking decision to take them off life support. The Pettett family knows that pain all too well, after their daughter Cheyla was taken off life support they donated her organs.

The Pettett's say the fact Cheyla was an organ donor described her perfectly. She would do anything for anyone and the family rests a little easier knowing Cheyla's memory lives on. On August 8, 2016, Cheyla Pettett was killed walking near 90th and Center, when a car hit her. She died only days before she was supposed to start her training as a pediatric occupational therapist. A job her mother, Stephanie Pettett, says she was meant for. “She said I have so many things to do, so many important things to do and I’m so excited about going to school,” said Pettett.

After the deadly crash, Cheyla's parents decided to honor her wishes donating her organs. Cheyla's heart was a perfect match for 72-year-old, Janet Going. “They came to me at three in the morning and they said we have a heart,” said Going, “everything went beautifully, and it's gone beautifully ever since.”

Janet and Cheyla's family met for the first time Friday, an experience they call overwhelming and emotional. “If she couldn't be here with us she would have wanted somebody to benefit from receiving her heart, she would have wanted somebody else to further their life,” said Pettett. The family's exchanged meaningful gifts, the most meaningful, Stephanie got to hear Cheyla's heart beating. Hearing that lets her know that Cheyla's memory lives on, in more ways than one.

Tonight, Cheyla's parents also accepted an honorary diploma in Cheyla's name as a Nebraska Methodist College Honorary Alumna, a scholarship fund was also set up in Cheyla's honor. Something Stephanie knows Cheyla would be proud to see. “She always figured out some way to do something for other people,” said Pettett.