April 9, 2020
Within the last few years, donation and transplantation has come full circle for Wendy Wees and her family.
In May 2017, Wendy’s son Abel received a heart transplant after suffering from Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome, essentially born with half a heart.
Just last month, Wendy lost her father in a tragic accident. He died in her arms, but she soon learned he was a registered donor.
Mike Wees loved playing with his grandson and was a huge part of his life and his transplant story. To have his story end in hope rather than tragedy was a moment of peace for Wendy.
When you ask young Abel, “Where’s Pressley?” he’ll touch his chest. He also kisses her picture on his nightstand before bed.
His family talks often with him about Pressley to ensure he knows about the young girl who saved his life.
Fifteen-month-old Pressley Bartonek died from electrocution after grabbing an electrically charged fence at a carnival in west Wichita in May 2017. Five days later she was declared braindead and her parents made the decision to save others through organ donation.
Abel was one of them.
“It’s amazing to see that she truly does live through him,” Wendy said. “We will always encourage him to live a full life because he’s living for himself and for Pressley.”
Abel became ill at just one-month-old. He was put on the transplant waiting list after a stroke, coding, and being placed on ECMO (cardiac and respiratory support).
He received Pressley’s heart at just four months old at Children’s Hospital in Omaha. Wendy made it a priority to write Pressley’s family before she had even left the hospital after Abel’s transplant.
“It was really important to me and I think that made a huge impact on them,” Wendy said.
Pressley’s parents wrote back, and the two families have since met and formed a special bond. Pressley’s family has even sent Wendy and Abel some of her favorite toys, include a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pillow.
“That’s become a staple in our lives,” Wendy said. “Angels are among us everywhere, and to give such a selfless gift can open your eyes to so many other things.”