The Ultimate Gift of Love

Prayers are answered this February for a child in desperate need of a new heart

The beating of a mechanical heart is all that was keeping Mahana Kadoguchi, an 11-year-old from Gardena, California, alive.

Her heart was too weak to beat on its own any longer. She’s been in the hospital since December, and her family wasn’t sure she would survive long enough to find a donor.

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But the most incredible gift was given to Kadoguchi and her family earlier this week. The fifth-grader underwent transplant surgery for a new heart on Monday. Little did the family know, given everything else that was going on, that it just happened to be the day before Valentine’s Day.

Unable to speak shortly after surgery, Kadoguchi wrote on a white board: “It’s scary at first, but in the end, it’s the best thing ever.”

Her parents can’t thank the donor enough. Even a couple of days post-surgery, they say they can already see a remarkable difference in their daughter’s health.

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Related: The Best Gifts … Ever

“I’m very thankful they chose to do something like this,” Kadoguchi’s mother told CBS2 in Los Angeles. She’s been by the girl’s bedside every day since she was admitted.

While the child has a long way to go to recover, her doctors and family are hopeful — and realize how blessed they are. There have been 2,802 organ transplants performed so far in 2017, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). But more than 118,000 Americans remain on the wait list for a transplant that could save their life. On average, 22 transplant candidates die every day.

To learn more about being an organ donor, talk with your local Department of Motor Vehicles, where information is typically available as you get or renew your driver’s license. Or you can visit the American Transplant Foundation at or the OPTN online.

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