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San Diego man meets the woman who received his mom's heart

Posted at 4:19 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 23:35:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Easter weekend is an emotional period for Jake Keli’inoi because it’s a time when he lost his mother, but also a time when his mom saved lives.

His mom, Kim Keli’inoi, suffered from a fatal fall in 2018. She was pronounced dead on Good Friday, then just a few days later on Easter Sunday, Hawaii resident Danny Ho’okala got the call that Kim’s heart would be given to her, saving Danny’s life.

With the help of Lifesharing, an organization that helps coordinate organ donations after people pass away, Kim was able to donate her heart, liver and both kidneys, saving four lives.

Now, three years later, and Danny and Jake finally spoke for the first time. The virtual meeting happened on Easter Sunday in 2021. Jake called from a park bench at Lake Poway dedicated to his mom, and Danny called from her home in Hawaii.

They spoke about the shared Hawaiian bond between Kim and Danny.

“We’ve spent a lot of time as kids on Maui and we’ve got family on all the islands and something that was really cool for me to hear that you’re from there because my mom was so close with that family and she would’ve been so happy to be back there,” said Jake, thankful his mom’s heart now lives in a place she loved.

Jake said in life, his mom was a person who was genuinely present with every person she spent time with, had a passion for service and loved life. While his mom's passing isn’t easy, he’s thankful for the good to come of it.

“Dying is not a positive great thing but if my mom had a choice in how she left this world, giving life to 4 or 5 people and on Easter is definitely her way of saying I told you so,” he said.

He said in the days leading up to the meeting, there was a flood of emotions. One of the most prevalent is the realization that her heart still beats on this planet.

“That heart used to beat for me and skip a beat when I fell over or hurt myself and now it’s keeping someone alive. Every day, every minute, every second it’s beating and keeping someone alive,” said Jake.

Jake added that he hopes people hear his mom's story and are inspired to become organ donors.

April is Donate Life Month.