At the arrivals gate at LF Wade International Airport, Charmaigne Laws embraces José Famania, whose life was saved when he received her late daughter’s heart in 2002. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
At the arrivals gate at LF Wade International Airport, Charmaigne Laws embraces José Famania, whose life was saved when he received her late daughter’s heart in 2002. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
<
1
2
3
4
5
>

She had been waiting for this day for 12 years and Charmaigne Laws was overwhelmed with joy the day she got to meet the donor recipient who received her late daughter’s heart.

At  around 10:45am on Sunday morning, 12 years after her daughter Chardré Yawana was killed in a traffic accident, Ms Laws met, for the first time, José Famania, whose life was saved when he received the heart in an operation. 

A contingent of some 40 friends and family members lined the arrivals hall wearing T-shirts decorated with photos of José and Yawana, and brandishing posters with the words ‘The Gift That Keeps On Living’ as well as heart-shaped banners. 

They became more and more excited as they waited for the Boston resident to emerge from the gates. 

Then, the moment Ms Laws saw him appear from the tunnel, she leapt over the arrivals barrier and ran towards the man she has called her ‘son’ during so many previous telephone conversations. 

With tears in her eyes, she threw her arms around his neck and cried: “My son has come home! Oh Lord, my son has come home, my son has come home! 

“I waited 12 years for this — to get to meet my son.”

After a minute, she tenderly placed a hand on Mr Famania’s heart and then put her ear close to his chest to hear her daughter’s heart beating and she appeared overwhelmingly happy. 

“I must have put my deaf ear to his chest,” she laughed. “But I could feel it. My heart was skipping a beat!” 

A smiling Mr Famania said: “I am in shock. I feel very good.”

After some time taking pictures and talking, everybody headed to their cars to go to a family friend’s house at Abbot’s Cliff for a warm and welcoming traditional codfish breakfast.

There was also a special cake made with a heart-shaped design.

After the food, Ms Laws addressed the guests, saying: “It’s overwhelming. It’s a joy. It’s a privilege to meet him after 12 years. It took me 11-plus years to even write a letter to meet him. It is just such a blessing. So many family and friends supported me through all this here and that made it a lot easier. It is wonderful.”

Mr Famania then got up and added: “It is very emotional. It’s hard, what I went through. It was crazy. I never thought I was going to make it and then I got the surprise that I was going to receive a heart — if not I was going to go onto to a machine. It was my who family who supported me, my parents were always there. This is a big blessing.”

Chardré Yawana was the only daughter of André Outerbridge and Charmaigne Laws. 

Mr Famania will remain here on the island until Sunday.

Donor/recipient
support is available via the newly relaunched Bermuda Organ and Tissue Association by emailing botacharity@gmail.com. They will hold regular meetings on the island.