Heartbeat brings joy to parents of Coppell donor

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by GARY REAVES

WFAA

Posted on September 20, 2010 at 11:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 21 at 6:56 PM

CHANDLER, Arizona — It's sunrise over the Phoenix suburbs. Todd and Tara Storch are here to continue the mission that began in March, the day their 13-year-old daughter Taylor died in a Colorado ski accident.

It was then that the Storches decided to donate Taylor's organs.

Their daughter may be deceased, but her heart beats on in the Valley of the Sun.

"Excited is not the correct or right word," said Todd Storch when asked to describe his feelings before getting a chance to hear Taylor's heartbeat again.

This day has been on Tara's mind since day one.

"That's what I've really wanted since the very beginning, is to find who has her heart and to have a connection with that person."

That person is Patricia Winters. Married to Joe, she is a nurse.

At age 40 — just a year younger than Tara — they are both now raising two children.

Patricia's heart started failing five years ago after the birth of her second son.

"I felt like I wasn't going to last too long," she said. "I was sleeping 18 hours a day, and could hardly do anything but lay in bed; it was pretty pathetic."

Patricia Winters was too weak to take care of her boys. Now, Taylor's heart lets her be a mom again.

"The boys are really trusting of me again and enjoying their mom," she said.

The challenge for Tara Storch is learning to be mom to two children instead of three. "Just trying to find a new 'normal,' without having the missing piece of our five-piece puzzle," she said.

Transplant alliances are super cautious about telling recipients who their donors are, but using the Internet, friends figured it out in just hours — and that still troubles Patricia.

"Knowing she was 13 that was hard; then seeng Taylor's picture and looking at the You Tubes... it just gave me that sinking feeling even more," she said.

Online, Patricia Winters followed the Storches' story on TaylorsGift.org, the Web site of the foundation Todd started to encourage organ donations.

It was there she saw a link to a News 8 story in which Tara Storch said this:

"I can't wait until I get to hug the person who has Taylor's heart."

That encouraged Patricia to reach out. The two moms moms built a special bond via e-mail.

"Tara and Patricia have been texting and e-mailing," Todd Storch said. "They had their first conversation a day or two ago."

Both couples were excited and nervous as they approached their first face-to-face meeting.

"I think it will be good," Joe Winters said.

"I know it will be, it will. It will be tough, but it will be good," Patricia added.

It's 110 degrees in the desert when the Storches finally pull up at Patricia's door.

There are tears as they embrace, heart-to-heart, for almost a minute.

"I know we should talk, but I need to hear her," Tara said to Patricia, who quickly retrieved her nurse's stethoscope.

Tara listened, smiled, and sobbed.

"It's so strong!" she said.

"She is very strong," Patricia replied.

It is the sound of life itself.

It is Taylor's gift.

E-mail greaves@wfaa.com

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