Viral Video Shows Family’s Unexpected Meeting With The Man Who Received Their Late Brother’s Heart

Losing a loved one is never easy, but comfort can sometimes be found when that person can live on and save another life through organ donation.

The family of Donovan Burger recently had a chance encounter with the man who received his heart three years ago and their emotional meeting is having us all reach for tissues.

Last Sunday was Transplant Awareness Day at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Baseball fans filled the stadium for an afternoon match between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds in support of organ donation.

Among the thousands of attendees were Savannah Roesch and her siblings who were honoring their late brother and organ donor, Donovan Bulger.


The entire family wore matching t-shirts with Donovan’s picture for the game.

As fate would have it, the recipient of Donovan’s heart, John Sueme, was also in attendance that day.

John Sueme and his family happened to cross paths with Donovan’s family and recognized his photo on their shirts.

A woman walked up to us and said, ‘Are you Donovan’s family?’ And we kind of had a confused look like,’ Yeah, who are you?’ And her demeanor changed and we’re like something’s going on and she was like, ‘My husband was the recipient of Donovan’s heart,’” said Brenden Bulger, Donovan’s brother.

According to KPLR11, John Sueme suffered from heart failure for five years before receiving Donovan’s heart transplant in 2016.

Donovan passed away after a tragic accident three years ago when he was only 21. The Sueme family had received a picture of Donovan nearly a year ago but weren’t given any other information about his remaining family.

Brenden said the family was overwhelmed by their chance encounter with Donovan’s heart recipient.

“Neither one of us were expecting it. I mean, he was overwhelmed obviously. I mean, you got this person’s heart. It was a really crazy feeling. We didn’t even get to our seats until, like, the fifth inning, we were just so concerned talking to them, seeing how he was doing, and what they been up to and stuff like that,” Brenden said.

A now-viral video captured the emotional moment when Donovan’s family took turns listening to their brother’s heartbeat inside Sueme’s chest.

Posted by Savannah Chavez Roesch on Monday, April 29, 2019

“It was crazy. That was the closest I’ve been to my brother since this happened, you know? His heart is literally beating against my ear right now and it’s a wonderful feeling,” Brenden said.

“I was able to hold their head to my chest, and they were about a half an inch from their brother’s heart,” Sueme told ABC News.

The two families exchanged information, promising to keep in touch and bring a stethoscope to their next meeting so they can better hear Donovan’s heart.

Savannah later shared a Facebook post about the unexpected encounter.

Today was a day I will NEVER EVER forget!!!!! This is definitely an amazing experience & am just SO blown away!! The...

Posted by Savannah Chavez Roesch on Sunday, April 28, 2019

And people were touched by the story.

h/t: KPLR11, ABC News, Facebook 


Written by Emily Burns

Writer and editorial specialist based out of Austin, TX.