In his death, 2-year-old Brentwood boy saves Illinois toddler

Ava Martin and William Heard seen in a side-by-side composite (Photo: Submitted)
Ava Martin and William Heard seen in a side-by-side composite (Photo: Submitted)

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was a new year and a new life for an Illinois toddler who received a heart transplant after the death of a Brentwood boy.

William Heard, 2, was kept alive so his organs could be donated after he choked on food in mid-December and never regained consciousness.

His heart was given to little Ava Martin, who is 18 months old, to save her life.

During his short life, William impacted a lot of lives. The Brentwood boy loved his parents, his older sister and his favorite cowboy boots.

“He ran everywhere he went. He was just 100-percent boy,” said William’s mother, Jamie Heard. “But a side of him was so loving.”

He knew he was loved by everyone around him. He knew God made him,” she added.

William’s life was cut short in December. While being watched by a nanny who’s been with the family for years, he choked on his food and never regained consciousness.

“She handled everything as well as she could in that moment,” Jamie Heard said.

Jamie and Daniel Heard have been through more than any parents should ever have to.

But in their darkest time, they made the selfless choice to donate William’s organs.

More than 400 miles away in Chicago, little Ava was fighting for her life. On Aug. 18, Ava was diagnosed with heart failure.

Ava waited four months before the good news came that a heart was available. The transplant was a success and she’s been released from the hospital.

Ava and her parents, Amie and Brian Martin, are still staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago while she receives follow-up treatments.

The family spoke to News 2 via FaceTime Tuesday.

(Courtesy: Amie Martin)
(Courtesy: Amie Martin)
“This is something that all the money in the world couldn’t buy us,” said Amie Martin. “And we are so thankful for what they’ve given us today.”

Thanks to social media, the Martin and Heard families are connected. The Heard family is planning to visit the Ava and the Martin family in Chicago soon.

Jamie and Daniel Heard are grateful that, even in a time of tragedy, William was able to save a life.

“It was such a bright light in the midst of our darkest time,” said Jamie Heard.

William’s kidneys were also donated to someone on the transplant list.

After one month, little Ava is doing great. Her family is staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago for a few more days.

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