Mum Finds Man With Her Son's Heart Following Organ Donation

14/08/2014 17:03 | Updated 20 May 2015

heart transplant son

A mum who had a chance encounter with the man who received her son's heart five years after his death has spoken of the emotional moment she was able to hear his heart beat again.

Freda and John Carter lost her son, also named John, to a brain tumour in 2008. He was just 33 years old.

The family agreed to donate John's organs for transplant. Soon after, they found out that his heart had been successfully transplanted, and that the recipient was a 14-year-old boy named Scott. They were not told where he lived or any other details that might identify him.

But when Freda attended a memorial service for organ donors, five years after John's death, and saw a man named Scott speak movingly about the moment his life was saved by a desperately-needed heart transplant, she knew this was the man who had her son's heart.

"When I sat down and turned the page on the order of service and saw his name there a strange feeling came over me. I knew he was the recipient of John's heart," she explained to The Daily Express, putting it down to 'maternal instinct'.

Scott Rutherford - a former performing arts student - sang a 'I Dreamed a Dream' from the musical Les Misérables before the congregation at St George's Church in Newcastle, and then explained that he had been born with a condition which meant his arteries were the wrong way round.

Hours from death, his life had been saved by a last-minute heart transplant - and the donor was a man named John.

heart transplant son

Freda broke down when her instincts were confirmed, and nurses present at the service escorted her to the rear of the church, where she tearfully told them about her realisation and asked if they could help her meet Scott.

Scott was thrilled to hear the woman whose son had saved his life was there, and the two had an emotional meeting after the service.

"I asked him if I could feel John's heart beat and he let me," Freda said. "It was all I wanted."

Scott recalled that when he was growing up, he 'had barely any life'. "I was miserable and when my heart problems got worse I just wanted to die," he said.

The transplant changed his life and now he is 'a completely different person' to the sickly teenager he was before his miracle operation.

"The day when we met was unbelievable, it was some sort of miracle," he said. "I felt like I was in a film."

If you would like to join the organ donor register, please visit

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