OWATONNA, Minn. (KMSP) - So much anticipation was packed into a few steps inside the Holiday Inn in Owatonna. Elizabeth Sammons didn't have to walk far to meet the family that made a new life for her possible.
One of her goals as she recovered from heart transplant surgery was to meet the family that made the decision to donate their child's heart.
Mason Reed's family traveled from Sioux City, Iowa, to Owatonna to meet Sammons.
"Thank you so much," Danielle Johnson, Mason's mother, said to Sammons. "I'm so glad he could be your hero."
Sammons provided gifts to the family, including jewelry with a verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13 inscribed: "And now these three remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love."
According to his family, Mason Reed committed suicide in June 2015. Coincidentally, his mother and grandfather had met with another donor family just days before.
"If she had never experienced that meeting, she would have never ever, agreed for those people to harvest his organs," said Steve Martin, Mason's grandfather.
Five people were helped by Mason, including Elizabeth Sammons. As her heart was weakening, she still managed to find the energy to crochet scarves for the homeless in Faribault, near her hometown of Lonsdale.
Eventually, even that became difficult. Doctors said she would need a transplant to survive. It turned out to be Mason's heart.
"It seems silly. but it's a huge change to go from sleeping all day to now you have energy," Sammons said. "Not just physically a huge change, but mentally a huge change."
Sammons said she plans to return to Faribault to tie scarves in Central Park in just a couple of weeks.
"I feel a responsibility now to Mason and to his mom to live my life to the fullest," she said.
Mason's family hopes their story inspires others to consider organ donation, because it helps so many people in so many ways.
"It has probably saved my life," said Danielle Johnson. "I have other children, but to know that my son is still alive. And his spirit is here, he's still physically here on earth. He's the hero he always wanted to be."