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Cedars-Sinai Blog

Transplant Recipient Is Part of the Donor's Family Now

Dylan's parents, Dan and Dana Stump, with the recipient of Dylan's heart, Erika Heranic, and her husband, Jeff.

Dylan's parents, Dan and Dana Stump, with the recipient of Dylan's heart, Erika Heranic, and her husband, Jeff.

Erika's journey

Erika, a middle school teacher, had a heart attack in March 2016. A few months later she went into cardiac arrest and was diagnosed with heart failure, beginning her journey to a new heart.

In October 2016 she arrived at Cedars-Sinai, where she underwent surgery at the Smidt Heart Institute to be implanted with a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD. The device would help her gain strength and prepare her for a heart transplant.

Just 6 months later, she got the call—there was a heart available.



Beauty from ashes

"When we lost Dylan, having his heart transplanted was our biggest hope."


An emotional meeting



"This is just the beginning—she's part of our family now."


Spreading the message

The Stumps' decision to donate their son's organs resulted in 5 successful transplants; they've made it their mission to promote organ donation.

"It's beauty from ashes," says Dana.

Dana is now an ambassador for OneLegacy, a nonprofit dedicated to spreading the message about the importance of organ donation. She travels around the LA area to speak about Dylan.

"He was very special," says Dana. "If he knew how many lives he has saved, he'd say it was all worth it. That's just the kind of person he was."



As the one-year anniversary of her transplant approaches, Erika is slowly returning to hobbies she had to give up while she was sick, like exercising and cooking. She's also looking forward to her daughter's wedding this summer.

She'll be joining the Stump family at the Donate Life Run/Walk on April 28 on the #HugsForDylan team. "I'm excited to see what we can do together to spread awareness about organ donation," says Dana.

"We're thankful to have Erika in our lives and we're looking forward to getting to know her better. This is just the beginning—she's part of our family now."