The Intelligencer | Jerome Lessard
For the last 18 years, inside Belyea's chest has beat the heart of a 27-year-old woman who died in a car crash in 1992. Still, as of eleven years ago, the 74-year-old former engineering teacher at Loyalist College and his wife Diane Coulter thought they would never know the donor's name or how she died.
Two years after he was given the "gift of life," Belyea wrote a thank-you letter to the French Canadian woman's donor family, who was living a "nine-hour drive" from the Ontario-Quebec border at the time. In his letter, the heart recipient had mentioned he would appreciate meeting the donor family, but no response came.
Sixteen years went by before the Belyeas heard from the woman's son, who was a child a the time of his mother's death.
"The rules of the game at the time of my heart transplantation in 1992 was that after two years following surgery you were allowed to write a letter to the donor family, which you gave to the transplant co-ordinator at the hospital (Ottawa Hospital in Belyea's case), who offers the letter to the donor family," said Belyea.