By BRIAN DINSMORE
OROVILLE (CBS SF) — Emotions overwhelmed Aletha Gomez as she listened to the heart beating in Jim Donovan’s chest.
There was joy, sadness and a sense of loss. Donovan had received Gomez’s boyfriend — Perry Choy’s heart — after the San Francisco firefighter had suffered a fatal stroke and passed away last August.
Gomez and Choy were the parents of a baby boy, Jeremy Kaiden Gomez-Choy. They were planning a bright future together when tragedy struck down the 20-year veteran firefighter.
Sunday was the first time Gomez had a chance to meet one of the donors who received Choy’s organs.
“He told me, you know when I pass away, when I die, what am I gonna do … donate (his organs) and save more lives,” Gomez said.
As the time neared to meet the 63-year-old Donovan, Gomez was overcome with a flood of emotions.
“I finally get to hear his heart once again,” said Gomez battling tears. “I just want to hear Perry’s heart once more.”
Moments later, she had a stethoscope to Donovan’s chest, listening to the beating heart.
“It was loud, it was strong,” Gomez said with tears streaming down her face. “As strong as his love for us.”
Donovan was suffering from heart failure before he received the transplant. He says he had all but given up hope.
“I actually gave up and I gave up for a long time,” he said. “I didn’t think anything would happen.”
Gomez said seeing Donovan — a grandfather — get a second chance at life was her boyfriend’s wish.
“This is his will,” she said. “This is what he wanted.”