Avery Toole was born with a rare congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Her parents knew she might need a heart transplant, but they never could have imagined the amazing relationship they would have with the family of the boy whose heart now beats in Avery’s chest.
Dalton Lawyer was born on January 17th, 2001. He was a vibrant, active boy with a contagious laugh and sparkling personality. Dalton’s energy and passion for life lit up a room and all those who knew him. He was a big brother and idolized by his three younger triplet siblings, Tai, Miles and Austin, and he was the true north for his loving parents Jeri and Jim. Dalton was cherished for his vivacious spirit and determination coupled with his youthful yet striking handsome features he commanded attention where ever he went.
Avery Toole was born on April 21st, 2004. Despite her beautiful, robust, and spunky temperament, hours after she was born, it was discovered that Avery had a very complex congenital heart defect known as HLHS. Avery underwent her first open heart surgery at five days old, and over the next several years had an additional eight open heart surgeries, four cardiac arrests and was ultimately placed on a mechanical heart pump at age five for terminal heart failure. Avery lived her life unable to run and play or even walk up several stairs without being breathless and blue. She experienced life from the sidelines, often sitting alone at play dates or birthday parties watching other children do what she was unable to because of her failing heart.
Dalton was a perfectly healthy boy who had every reason to live a long prosperous life. Avery was a beautiful little girl born with a broken heart and uncertain future as to what life she would have. The lives of these two children 800 miles apart – unlikely to ever intersect.
On August 5th, 2009, eight year old Dalton Lawyer lost his life suddenly and tragically in a biking accident. His parents, Jeri and Jim, a nurse and an anesthesiologist, during their darkest moment and inexplicable grief made the decision to donate Dalton’s organs. Dalton saved four individuals through his gift of life.
On August 6th, 2009, Avery received his heart.
Avery lives with her parents Cheryl and Mike in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. She is a healthy, vibrant young girl with a sparkling personality whose vivacious spirit and passion for life lights up a room and the lives of all who know her.
We would like to acknowledge and extend our deepest gratitude to families who are placed in the inexplicable circumstance of making end of life decisions considering organ donation. Without you, stories like Avery and Dalton’s will never be.
In addition, we would like to thank all the medical professionals who coupled with the selfless generosity of donor families, make organ transplantation possible. Their tireless work to first heal, their dedication, special care, support and deep compassion to provide organ donation as an option, their courage to have meaningful conversations with families navigating end of life decisions and the orchestration of the countless teams necessary to transplant the gift of life from donor to recipient is life changing for all.
Mike & Cheryl Toole and Jim & Jeri Lawyer
Jonathan Hoefer is an author, illustrator and art director and has been involved in the printing and publishing industry for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Visual and Performing Arts program, majoring in illustration. His illustrative work has been published in national newspapers and magazines. He has been an illustrator and art director of four books including Eddie Shapes Up by ex-NYC mayor Ed Koch and Pat Thaler Koch, Lilly Lou Makes a New Friend and Lilly Lou Goes to Washington, D.C. a book series by Mike Murphy. In addition, Hoefer wrote and illustrated Pun Intended: Welcome to the Punny Farm, which are visual puns, once made famous when he acted as Art Director of the Daily Orange Newspaper at Syracuse University. He currently lives with his family in St. Petersburg, FL.
Milana Samarskaya is an illustrator that has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil in her hand. Reading and drawing are her two passions since childhood, and have developed into a love of book illustration, collaborating with children’s writers to give theri stories life. She currently lives in Taganrog, Russia. You can see more of Milana's work on her website: https://misamarskaya.ru