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Tampa heart transplant recipient writes inspiring book with his donor's mother

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Posted at 1:29 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 16:18:46-04

TAMPA — This week a new book is being released that takes a look at organ donation through the lives of two people, a heart recipient from Tampa, and the mother of his heart donor from New York.

Pete Radigan and Jan Mauk were strangers, living 1,200 miles apart, until the events of August 4 1997 tied them together forever. Radigan had been in a Tampa hospital for weeks.

“They said if you don’t get a heart transplant I’m going to die,” said Radigan.

While in upstate New York, Jan was also in a hospital. Her 16-year-old son Tom was taking his final breaths following a devastating motorcycle accident.

“That was God’s decision, however, we did have a choice about life for other people,” said Mauk.

Eighteen months later, Pete and Jan met for the first time.

“The mother whose child she lost at 16-years-old puts her head to your chest so that she can listen to the beat of her son’s heart,” said Radigan.

“Tom’s heart saved his life,” said Mauk.

It was the start of a beautiful friendship between Pete’s family and Jan’s family.

“She was at my wedding, she was one of the first few people that I called at the birth of my child,” said Radigan.

Throughout his journey Pete kept a journal, dating back to the week he received the transplant, but little did he know, Jan was doing the exact same. Now, 24 years after that fateful August day, they are combining their notes into one book, “Tragedy to Triumph, the Story of Tom’s Heart.”

“From all my research this is the first time that a donor family and their heart recipient wrote a book together,” said Radigan.

“This book is right from raw feelings,” said Mauk.

Radigan said he hopes the book serves as a guide for all families when it comes to organ donation.

“The most important thing you can do is make the decision and share that decision with your family,” said Radigan.

Mauk said looking down at the book, Tom would put his thumbs up. “He just loved people, he loved caring for people, and helping people,” said Mauk.

For more information on the book go to tragedytotriumph.net.