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Family uses lights to honor the donor that saved their daughter’s life

In 2019, they added a banner to say thank you to the donor. The family said because of the banner they were able to meet the donor’s family last year.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 11:38 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Thousand of families in East Tennessee put out their Christmas lights each year just to celebrate the holidays, but for one family there is a special meaning behind it.

A couple of years ago, the Hardin family stopped putting up their lights.

“I stopped because the kids moved out of the house and I didn’t think an old man needed to be doing all of this,” said David Hardin.

That all changed when the family found out their daughter, Emily had a heart condition. Doctors said they found a heart murmur during a physical and was born with a birth abnormality at 20-years-old.

“They repaired it supposedly successfully, but then about 6 months later she went back into heart failure,” said Emily’s mother, Kelly Hardin.

That’s when Emily resorted to getting a heart transplant. The family said weeks after applying she received her new heart two days before Christmas.

“She immediately called me and said ‘Daddy. Heart.’ That’s all she said so like a wild man I rushed to her apartment and drove her to Vanderbilt.” said David.

To celebrate the moment, David chose to start putting the lights up around the house again. In 2019, they added a banner to say thank you to the donor. The family said because of the banner they were able to meet the donor’s family last year.

The Hardin family met with Norma Hill who’s son Victor was Emily’s donor. Now whenever the Hardin family sees the Christmas lights on their home with the banner, they think of the love for Emily and thank Victor for helping keep her alive.

WVLT spoke with Emily on how she is doing now. She’s 25 and has a job in Nashville. She is in graduate school where she hopes to get her master’s in social work.

According to the donor registration in Tennessee, one organ donor can save eight lives. You can learn more about how to be an organ donor on their website.

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