One heart connects two families from across the country

By  | 

ATOKA, Okla. (KXII) -- In August 2016, 29-year-old Atoka native Cheyla Pettet had just moved to Omaha, Nebraska to start her masters at Nebraska Methodist College.

"She worked so hard to get where she was. She was just on the verge of finishing her dream to become an occupational therapist," said Cheyla's mom Stephanie Pettet.

Cheyla was walking her dog one morning when she was hit by a car.

She died the next day.

"I keep reminding myself, she's in heaven, she doesn't need those organs. She would want someone to benefit," said Pettet.

Cheyla was a registered organ donor.

After graduating from Atoka High School, Cheyla had been in a bad accident that required weeks of therapy, which spurred her desire to help people.

When she passed away, her heart went to a woman who had battled heart problems for 20 years and on Saturday, Cheyla's family got the chance to meet her.

"I was able to listen to Cheyla's heart," said Pettet.

The family of Janet Going, the woman with Cheyla's heart, was overjoyed.

"Smiled and hugged and thanked God for the blessing of Cheyla's heart," said Shelly Going, Janet's daughter.

The two groups said the meeting was emotional but brought them closure and close together.

"We had nicknamed her heart Ruthie the night that she had gotten the heart transplant," said Going.

"Ruthie, because Jan's middle name is Ruth. She didn't know Cheyla yet, Cheyla's middle name is Ruth," said Pettet.

"A Cheyla Ruth and a Janet Ruth," said Shelly.

Cheyla's family knows her legacy beats on and are working to put together a scholarship in her name.

"She was just such a kind person and I want people to be kind to each other and I want it to be an encouragement. You know, if we could be a scholarship I feel like that would be an encouragement for others to pursue their dreams," said Pettet.