N.S. mother meets recipient of deceased son's heart at softball tournament
HALIFAX -- On Sunday in Trenton, N.S., Donna Nugent heard her son, Michael Collier's heartbeat for the first time since he passed away more than a year ago, via the recipient of his heart, Jacob Basque.
"I feel very blessed that I finally got to meet Jacob,” says Nugent. “My heart feels warm right now, very warm.”
For Basque, it was a surreal moment.
“I just feel really grateful,” says Basque. “I don't know how to explain it – it's unbelievable.”
Collier, who was from New Glasgow, N.S., passed away on Sept. 17, 2018, after his car left the highway in Pictou County. He was 23 years old. Two days later, Basque, from Eskasoni, was rushed to hospital in Halifax with an irregular heartbeat, requiring an emergency heart transplant.
Over one year later, Basque recovered and feels stronger than ever – thanks to Collier’s heart.
“I've been feeling pretty good,” says Basque. “I'm finally playing hockey – it was a tough recovery."
On Sunday, Nugent finally had the chance to meet Basque at a charity softball tournament in support of a cause already close to her heart.
“Every year they had this tournament,” says Nugent. “Michael and I would come and watch.”
The annual Dawson's Christmas Wish Tournament was started seven years ago by Dawson MacKay, who is now 15 years old, and his father, Freddy, to give back to their community. The 2019 tournament was dedicated to Collier.
"It makes everybody feel better,” says MacKay. “When you help somebody, and you give to others, it always comes back in return."
While it has been a tough year for Collier's family, they take comfort in knowing his organs have helped save three different lives as his liver and pancreas were also transplanted to recipients in need.
“I knew the kind of impact that he had on his family,” says Basque. “Coming out here today, you can see how much people loved him and cared about him."
Despite the tragic loss, Collier’s mother remembers his generosity and is happy he could pass on the gift of life to those in need.
"He was very giving – and still now where he gave his organs,” says Nugent. “That right there, the gift of life – that is what Michael would want."
Meanwhile, the MacKay family says they expect to raise about $3,000 from this year's Dawson's Christmas Wish Tournament, which will go towards providing Christmas gifts, food and other amenities to local families in need.
As for the two families most affected by Collier's passing and organ donation, they say they've already passed on the greatest gift of all – the gift of life.