16-month-old Minnesota heart transplant recipient's family meets donor family for the first time

16-month-old Lola Bond was born with a heart condition and needed a heart transplant to survive. After receiving a new heart in September, her family, and the donor’s family, met for the first time.

Lola was born with a heart condition called cardiomyopathy. The diagnosis meant she had an enlarged heart that was crushing her surrounding organs and couldn’t work in her body. She was in need of a life-saving heart transplant.

In September, the Bond family got the call they had been waiting for. A heart was ready for her.

A three-year-old boy named Cash, who lived in Illinois, had drowned. He was in the hospital on life support for six days.

“The doctor said there was nothing they could do any longer so they had to let him go,” Cash’s mom, Brooke Eaton said.

Eaton decided to make her son an organ donor.

“He loved to share, so part of his life and giving some of it to Lola and other children is part of who he was,” Eaton said.

Lola was the recipient of his heart. In September surgeons at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital performed the surgery. By April, Lola was taken off of all of the life-saving lines that had been attached to her body since she was 16 days old.

“There’s no doubt we wouldn’t have her alive if it wasn’t for the miracle that we received in this heart,” Lola’s Grandmother, Margaret Bond said.

On Wednesday, the Bonds, the family whose child received a new heart, met the Eatons, the family who lost their son.

“Because of them and their great decision, we have Lola,” Bond said.

“Cash’s journey can continue with Lola’s journey and together they’re going to do really great things,” Eaton said.

Lola’s heart transplant was one of 11 the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital performed in the past year - the highest number of pediatric heart transplants the hospital has ever done.

“Part of the reason is the talent,” Dr. Ashley Loomis explains. She said the hospital has a team that is equipped to handle these surgeries so they are performing more of them. “We by far do many many, more we’re the only hospital in the metro area that does heart transplants at this time.”

Lola is expected to live a normal life. The Bonds and the Eatons say they plan to stay in touch and watch Lola grow together.

“We have the rest of her life to celebrate every day that gift that Brooke has given us,” Bond said.