World record 132 heart recipients gather to celebrate new life on Valentine’s Day

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A world record 132 heart recipients crowded into an auto dealership on Valentine’s Day in Southfield, creating a media stir and heartfelt appreciation for organ donors and their families.

The first-time event was held at Art Moran Buick GMC showroom and was sponsored by the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, a group that raises awareness about the miracle of donation and transplantation.

“No one understands the beauty of a heart on Valentine’s Day better than someone who has received a new one,” said Lisa Langley, chair of the Donation Life Coalition and executive director of the Michigan Eye-Bank.

The coalition and its partners – including Gift of Life Michigan – are awaiting official word from Guinness World Records which publishes the popular Guinness Book of World Records, but they believe the mark was met. Seven transplant centers from Michigan and Ohio helped by contacting their heart recipients to ensure the record number was met.

Heart recipient Sherry Johnson of Farmington Hills was in charge of extensive documentation and paperwork required to prove a Guinness World Record. Johnson was dying of cardiomyopathy when she received her heart in 2006. Before her transplant she was unable to walk her little boys to the bus stop or even fold a load of laundry.

“My transplant was a gift for me and a gift for my family,” she said. “We have my donor to thank for that.”

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