Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy-Winning Song ‘Just Like That’ Shines Light on Organ Donors

As Bonnie Raitt tells it, the inspiration for the Grammy-winning Song of the Year, “Just Like That,” was a television segment in which a mother listens to her dead son’s heartbeat in her chest. of a transplant recipient.

“I was so inspired by this song by the incredible story of love, grace and generosity of one donor of human organs,” Raitt said in his acceptance speech Sunday night. their body to help another person live. “And the story is simple and beautiful at this point.”

She sings:

I lay my head on his chest

And I was with my boy again

Raitt hasn’t said what 2018 transplant story prompted her to write those lyrics, but there’s been a lot since. The grief and hope she writes about were expressed in more than a dozen encounters recorded by local television stations.

Jody Pelt of Michigan lost her 19-year-old son, Bill Scruggs, when he was shot dead in 2019. Scruggs is the type of teenager who always gives whatever he has in his pocket when he meets homeless people. He’s registered as an organ donor the day he got his driver’s license in 2018. “He came back from the counter and showed me the little sticker that said, ‘I’m an organ donor,’” Pelt told the Daily Beast on Monday. “He’s very proud of himself.”

The teenager’s heart went to a man named Bobby Davis at the Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute in North Carolina. Pelt and Davis initially communicated through an intermediary, then directly. Davis sent her a continuous recording of her son’s heartbeat taken during a checkup.

“The recording was beautiful, but it reminded me of an ultrasound,” she recalls. “Hearing it in real life is even better.”

She was able to do it through a stethoscope when they finally meet in person at the hospital in 2021.

“I did it,” she could be heard exclaiming in a video of the moment.

She recalls, “It was bittersweet – so happy for the person who has it now, but you also miss your partner so much.”

She added, “Happy tears all around… I’m definitely a happy mom.” Jenny Sullivan of Texas has a similar story. her son, Amir Aguilar, 26 years old when he was shot dead. His heart went to Manny Hardy of Oklahoma, who had heart failure when he received a transplant on Father’s Day 2020.

Hardy returns home from the hospital and finds a letter from Sullivan. She went to see him in October of that year, and a television news team was present when they met.

Hardy recalls: “She just walked up to me and laid her head on my chest while hugging me. She cried and cried and cried.

“When I heard my son’s heart beat in Manny’s chest, I closed my eyes and felt like I was pregnant with my son,” she said. “It’s such a precious, deep, deep love that I have for my son.”

She said that when she looked at Hardy’s face, it was as if it became transparent. She said she also saw her son’s face.

“It’s something only a mother can see,” she said.

She recalls what her son said when he was a Marine: “If you could save a life with your life, you would be very happy.”

Sullivan and Hardy sat and talked for hours. Hardy’s wife gives Sullivan a gift.

Hardy said: “My wife went to Build a Bear and put a heart rate recording on the bear and gave it to her.

Similar encounters between mothers and heart transplant recipients can be found online by anyone in need of a little inspiration. But there would have been much more had it not been for the permanent and severe shortage of donated hearts.

Dr Eric Skipper, a heart transplant surgeon at the same hospital in North Carolina where Pelt listened to her dead son’s live heart, said: “There aren’t nearly enough hearts.

Nationally, there are less than 5,000 transplants per year, Skipper said. The demand is close to 35,000 to 40,000. Shortlisting a heart transplant has been hard, and as of Sunday, the federal transplant network had 3,343 waiting recipients.

“You can emphasize enough that is necessary,” he said. “You are really giving them the gift of life.”

The recipient of Bill Scruggs’ gift of life arranged with the hospital to have a bell fitted with a photo of him on the heart transplant floor. The so-called ‘Bill’s Bell’ is rung after every successful heart transplant.

“I think the bell is a great tribute to Bill and I also believe that patients who ring the bell feel as if they are winning the war,” Pelt said.

Bill’s mother still hasn’t heard Bonnie Raitt’s song. But Pelt did record her son’s heartbeat.

“I still listen to it at least two or three times a month,” she says.

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