Family befriends recipient of their daughter's heart after tragic motorcycle crash

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by Marie Saavedra

azfamily.com

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 6:38 PM

PHOENIX -- The corner of 27th Drive and Carefree Highway rarely leaves Barbara Rich’s mind.

“We come up here all the time …it’s just tough," she said.

It’s where she lost her daughter Dayle Downs Totonchi in March of 2010. And it’s why she’s spent the past few months in court, watching the trial of Michael Jakscht. A jury found him guilty of killing four and injuring others after crashing his truck into a group of motorcycles.

Jakscht will be sentenced Friday morning.

Rich and her husband Frank hope he’s locked up for life.

"We have the rest of our lives that we have to miss our daughter. And if he would get out and be able to do things he used to do or whatever, that wouldn’t be right," said Frank.

Dayle was 47-years-old, with a full heart and a loving family. While her violent death and the drawn out trial brought pain, a decision made in the family’s darkest hour has brought hope.

"I knew that someone would have to pass on for me to continue to live, and that was hard for me," said Yadira Gonzalez, who’s battled heart problems with her partner Mariah Garcia since 2004.

The day of the crash, things looked bleak.

"They had me on a prescription which kept the heart pumping because my organs were already shutting down," said Gonzalez.

But three days later, the doctors announced they had a heart for Gonzalez, just as her partner heard about the crash. She had a gut feeling about the victims that turned out to be right.

"I had talked to a friend of ours who was going to a massage therapy school and that’s where Dayle was a teacher. And we found out she had passed on and that she was on the donor list.," said Garcia. 

So Gonzales wrote a letter to the donor registry, and this year, a part of Dayle returned to her mother.

"Yadira has Dayle’s heart and when I touch her, it’s just, she’s just up there smiling!" said Barbara.

They’ve formed a friendship, and a promise, to honor Dayle’s life for decades to come. 

Gonzales is now living a healthy, full life in Anthem. In all, Dayle's organ donations changed the lives of seven people.

For more information on how you can become an organ donor, visit The Arizona Donor Registry. 

 

 

 

 

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