For the first time, the widow and mother of the late John Edwin Erickson met the man whose life John saved by donating his heart.
Robert Pascarelli, a 66-year-old retired police officer from Connecticut is one of four people alive today because John was an organ donor when he died at 34, Newsday reported.
John, a construction worker from Long Island, was struck and killed by a car in Melville New York, in 2016.
His wife, Megan, and mother, Donna, were stunned and heartbroken by the sudden loss of the father, son and husband.
But Monday they took comfort in hearing his heart beat as ‘strong as ever’ in Robert’s chest at a Monday event held by Live On NY.
Robert Pascarelli (left), held a stethoscope to his chest on Monday so that Megan Erickson (right) could hear the heart her late husband, John, donated when he was killed suddenly in a car accident in 2016
When Megan and John needed to update their driver’s licences, she noticed her husband was not an organ donor.
She encouraged him to sign up.
‘John was very sweet, with a very, very good heart. So when I asked him to become an organ donor, it was a no-brainer for him,’ she told Newsday.
‘He said, ‘Of course. I will do it.’
Megan couldn’t have anticipated how soon that decision would come into effect.
She had been on the phone with John when he tried to cross a street but was hit by a car.
John and Megan were only 20 minutes apart, but by the time Megan got to the hospital, her husband was brain dead.
Doctors there kept blood and oxygen flowing through John’s body once they saw that he was a donor.
Taking her turn to listen to his heart, John’s mother, Donna, stifled a sob at her first meeting with Robert on Monday
There wasn’t much time to spare, but Megan knew her husband’s death had been swift and certain. The recovery and transplantation of his organs needed to be done in the same way.
At that time, Robert Pascarelli was dying in Norwalk, Connecticut.
He was one of more than 100,000 people on transplant waiting lists, hoping for a life-saving organ each year.
But only 36,528 transplants are performed annually, and 20 people die every day
The 66-year-old spent seven months on the transplant list before he met his match: John’s heart.
That was two years ago. In the time since he received John’s heart, Robert’s family has watched the retiree return to his old self.
‘He’s not gray anymore and his demeanor is deeper, more verbal and appreciative,’ said Robert’s son, James, at the Monday event where the Pascarelli and Erickson families met.
Megan (left) and John (pictured) were married for just four years before his untimely death in 2016 and had one young son together (right)
Looking at photos of John, Robert said, ‘We are a perfect match.’
Megan agreed. She told Robert that John, her husband of just four years was the love of her life.
‘You have the same blue eye,’ she said tearfully as she hugged Robert.
Megan got to hear John’s heart beat on in Robert’s chest – but not before John’s mother, Donna, did.
As Robert gripped the stethoscope to his chest, Donna looked at her lap and gasped a little, hearing her son’s heart again.
‘Not a skip – strong as ever,’ Donna said, according to Newsday.
Hearing her late husband’s heart again, Megan wiped a tear from her eye, as Robert looked on.
Robert told Megan she was beautiful and gave her a necklace featuring a pair of interlocked hearts, with an inscription: ‘Our Heart Lives On. Thank You from the Pascarelli Family.’