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Personal Stories

Hero Tribute – Rowe’s Story

By donor dad and heart recipient, Adam Burkhart

My name is Adam Burkhart and every once in a while a very special gift comes your way, and sometimes that very special gift comes on a very special day. For my wife and I, that special gift was our third daughter, Rowe Catherine Burkhart. She was born on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019. What an amazing Mother’s Day gift for my wife, Kali.

Rowe was such a good baby. She was always smiling, playful, and like all babies, loved to be held. She had the absolute cutest and most contagious smile. Rowe was a very normal, active, beautiful baby girl.

On September 13, 2019, Kali and I were enjoying a nice family dinner at home with our daughters, Quinn, Mattyn and Rowe. This was a special dinner because the very next day was my nineteenth heart transplant anniversary.

Shortly after Rowe went to bed that night, she began to scream. Not a typical baby scream, but a distressed scream. Kali and I rushed into her room to find her turning blue. She was rushed to Genesis Healthcare System in Zanesville. Despite all our fears, she was diagnosed with heart failure. After receiving amazing care at Genesis, she was moved to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

On September 14, Rowe went into surgery to have a LVAD placed. The next several days were full of tests and constant talks with the medical team. All Kali and I could do was sit there, hold Rowe’s hand and pray.

On September 19, 2019 at 4:14 p.m., Kali and I lost our baby girl. Quinn and Mattyn lost their baby sister. Our world was turned completely upside down. Other than family, the only thing during this time that truly gave us comfort, was knowing Rowe passed away a hero. She was an organ donor.

We were happy to hear there was no baby nearby in need of donation at that time, but at the same time we wish Rowe could have saved lives. So the next best thing Rowe could do is to donate to research. We hope something was learned about her unfairly short life that will benefit many others in the future.

Organ donation has been a huge part of my family’s life for a long time. For us, the decision was very easy; our daughter passed away a hero at just the age of four-months old. There is not a day that goes by we don’t think of Rowe and all the amazing people and organizations that tried so incredibly hard to save our baby girl. Rowe not only gave the gift of organ donation through research, she also gave us the gift of perception. We see things very different now. We all have a better understanding of what truly matters in life because of her. On behalf of my entire family, we thank everyone involved for what they did and what they continue to do each and every day.


Adam M. Burkhart

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