Go Red For Women brings heart recipient, donor's family together in Albany

ALBANY TIMES-UNION | Leigh Hornbeck

Right after doctors told Steve Russell his daughter Klarissa was brain-dead following a car crash, a transplant team asked for her heart. He sent them away.

"They seemed like vultures," he said.

He didn't know 14-year-old Anna King was waiting in another hospital, prepping for a surgery to have an internal defibrillator placed in her chest — a move meant to buy her more time with a failing heart. He didn't know more than two years had gone by since Anna's name was added to the transplant list.

But four or five hours after he sent the transplant team away in anger, he called them back. In his grief, he did what he hoped Klarissa would want him to do: he gave her heart away.

Three years later, he heard Klarissa's heart beat again inside Anna. At the Go Red for Women event Thursday, an annual fundraiser for the American Heart Association of the Capital Region, Steve and Anna took questions from reporters. They sat with their arms linked; King's mom sat nearby with Klarissa's grandmother, Linda McGraw.

It was overwhelming for Russell, a trucker from Texas, speaking in front of the sold-out crowd at the Albany Marriott on Wolf Road. He let Anna do the talking. Continue reading
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