ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Many memorable moments happen at Busch Stadium. One moment that happened off the field Sunday has gone viral on social media.
Sunday was Transplant Awareness Day at Busch Stadium. Thousands of baseball fans attended the afternoon match between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds to support organ donation. Savannah Roesch and her sibling were there to attend the game honoring her late brother, Donovan Bulger, who was an organ donor. They had an unexpected meeting with the man who received her brother’s heart.
“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,” said Brenden Bulger, Donovan’s brother.
Brenden and his sisters were wearing t-shirts with Donovan’s picture at the game. John Sueme of St. Louis and his family happened to cross paths with them at the Mid-America Transplant Display at the stadium. The Suemes had received Donovan’s pictures from his family nearly a year ago but they weren’t permitted to receive identifying information about them.
But Sueme’s family recognized Donovan’s picture on the t-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,'” Brenden said.
John Sueme suffered from heart failure five years before he had the transplant in 2016. Donovan died in an accident when he was 21. One by one, Donovan’s family took turns listening to their brother’s heart beating inside Sueme’s chest.
“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.
The Bulger family and the Sueme family exchanged contact information and plan to keep in touch. The Bulgers plan to bring a stethoscope next time so they can better hear their brother’s heartbeat.
This is what Savannah Roesch, Donovan’s sister, posted to Facebook on Sunday:
“Today was a day I will NEVER EVER forget!!!!! This is definitely an amazing experience & am just SO blown away!! The video just says it all!!
So most of you already know my brother was an organ donor. A year ago we received a letter from the recipient of his heart. I wrote back & put some pictures of Donovan along with it so they could put a face to his new heart. In the letters you cannot put any identifying information in them (last name, age, where you live etc) so it’s such an intense feeling knowing you are so close to contact but really no idea who they are.
We got tickets to the Cardinal’s game for the Donate Life day. All that know me know that I do not like baseball! But we go to honor my baby brother!! We got our group picture taken & as I’m giving my email address to the photographer to send the copy to me I hear a woman as “Are you Donovan’s family?” I didn’t really think much of it. I thought that it was someone that worked with him or knew him from school.
It was the recipient of Donovan Bulger ‘s heart!!!!!!!!! His daughter recognized the picture on our shirts & told her mom she thinks it’s Donovan’s family!!!! Without hesitation, her mom came up to us & asked because they were just as eager to know who we were just as we were eager to meet them!! We were all in COMPLETE SHOCK & AWE!!! I think everyone in the ballpark heard our cries & shrieks of complete shock & joy!!!! I had been waiting to hear back from them since I wrote that letter & to FINALLY meet him & his WONDERFUL family COMPLETELY RANDOM by chance like that was a feeling I CANNOT even begin to describe!!!! We went back & got a group picture with our new found family!!!
I think Donovan arranged for us to meet this way. What are the chances of this happening?!? I’m still in complete SHOCK!!!!! Thank you Angie for making our shirts!!!!! If it wasn’t for us wearing them, this never would have happened!!! We would have walked past each other & would have never met!!!!!!”