BALTIMORE, Marlyland — A mother living without her teenage son who was shot and killed last year got to meet the girl whose life he saved with his heart.
Xavier Young was an organ donor.
Although lost to gun violence, his gift saved more than one life — it saved an entire family.
"I think he really wanted me to see that he’s OK and his heart is also still going," said Jennifer Young.
Young is Xavier's mother. He was 14 years old when he was shot and killed in Laurel, Maryland last year.
"We buried him a year ago back on (November 6) so this week has been really tough," Young said.
But in darkness, there is a little light as Young met the girl who now holds her son's heart.
"My son would’ve loved to meet her in life and would’ve heard about her all the time so it’s bittersweet to me," said Young.
For Gwendolyn Ihm's family, it was an emotional and humbling meeting.
"As we celebrate Gwendolyn’s heart transplant, we also have to remember that at that same time there’s another family that are remembering another year of not having their loved one with them," said Brian Ihm, whose daughter now has Young's heart.
Ihm was diagnosed with leukemia before she was just 2 months old and the radiation wreaked havoc on her heart.
"Without Xavier’s heart Gwendolyn would not be at school, she would not be running around, she would not be able to participate like all the kids," Ihm said.
Young heard her son's heart beating inside of Gwen.
"It’s not really him. It’s a piece, and that’s amazing too," said Young.
The families have spoken but never met.
"I just feel like they remind me so much of him. It’s like he went back to family is what I want to say," Young told WMAR.
Xavier was able to donate seven organs and save five lives after his death last November.
"Without the help of God, maybe Jennifer (Young) wouldn't have made the decision that she made," said Ihm.
The hope is for Gwen to be a normal 13-year-old.
"We just want her to have a couple of good years of health," Ihm said, "and Xavier’s gift has given us that."