Family who lost toddler meets boy who received her heart

In an emotional meeting, a grieving mother and father came face to face with the family of the boy who has their daughter’s heart beating inside of him.

On Sept. 25, Brandon Wilcox and Lacey Tiara Wilcox of Avon, Indiana, met with the parents of Mason Perkins, now 2, who received the heart of their late toddler, Alaiya Wilcox.

“We had so many different emotions running through us,” Lacey Tiara Wilcox told ABC News. “We were anxious to meet Mason in person. Just from photos and videos, he has Alaiya’s energy. He has her spunk now. It was emotional hearing her heart in someone else … but we are grateful that we have an opportunity to hear what made her so amazing.”

On Dec. 26, 2015, 2-year-old Alaiya lost her life to bacterial meningitis. Two days later in Tennessee, Mason received her heart.

Courtesy Suha Dabit/World of Broken HeartsLacey Tiara Wilcox gives a hug to Mason Perkins, 2, nearly two years after he received the heart of her late daughter, Alaiya Wilcox.

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Mason was born with a congenital heart defect and waited 8 months on the donor list. He was one of seven people whose life was saved from one of Alaiya’s donated organs.

“We almost lost him and for that 8 months there were many times when I wondered, ‘Will we be able to bring him home? Will he ever know what his room looked like? Will he ever leave the hospital? Alaiya had made that possible.”

Courtesy Suha Dabit/World of Broken HeartsPHOTO:Lacey Tiara Wilcox of Avon, Ind. and Angela Perkins of Jellico, Tenn. embrace as they meet face-to-face for the first time on Sept. 25, 2017 at Centennial Park in Nashville.

Mason’s mother, Angela Perkins of Jellico, Tennessee, said she knew her son’s heart donation came from a little girl in Indiana. She learned the family’s identity after finding Alaiya’s obituary online, she said.

On Dec. 28, 2016, the anniversary of the day Mason received the heart, Perkins reached out to the Wilcox family on Facebook.

Courtesy Suha Dabit/World of Broken HeartsLacey Tiara Wilcox listens to her daughter’s heart inside the chest of 2-year-old Mason Perkins.

Both families met in person Monday at Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee, where the Wilcox’s heard their daughter’s heart beating inside Mason’s chest.

Suha Dabit, photographer and founder of World of Broken Hearts, which raises awareness for CHD and organ donation, was there to capture the moment. Dabit started her organization after her daughter Nadia, now 7, received a heart transplant in February 2013.

Courtesy Suha Dabit/World of Broken HeartsOn Dec. 28, 2015, Mason Perkins, 2, received the heart of Alaiya Wilcox two days after she passed away from bacterial meningitis.

“The family, they were a little bit nervous and then they warmed up to each other,” Dabit said. “Even though there was so much pain, there was also so much love to give.”

Wilcox said, “I’m very happy that special moment was able to be captured. We all are. That’s just something we will never forget.”

Courtesy Suha Dabit/World of Broken HeartsFrom l-r, Brandon Wilcox and Lacey Tiara Wilcox of Avon, Ind. stand alongside their children Alanna, 5, and Averie, 1, as they meet Angela and Mike Perkins and their sons Brayden, 6, and Mason, 2, on Sept. 25, 2017, at Centennial Park in Nashville.

Perkins said she has “no words” to describe her gratitude to the Wilcox family and their decision to donate their daughter’s organs.

“I really feel like Mason had a long wait for a heart but he got the perfect heart for him,” she added. “I am so glad it’s Alaiya’s [heart] and that we are connected to this family.”