Denton Heart Recipient Graduates High School

Breana Bladel walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma Friday from Denton's Ryan High School. It was a milestone neither she nor her family was sure she'd reach.

"I was overwhelmed with it because I didn't know whether or not I would go to my graduation," said Breana.

Breana was born with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome. When NBC 5 first met Breana last year, she had already undergone multiple heart surgeries, but doctors told her that only a transplant could save her life.

While the Bladels prayed for a miracle, another family in Lumberton, Texas, was dealing with unimaginable tragedy.

A car crash killed 15-year-old Courtney Sterling and her older sister, Connely Burns. It also killed Burns's unborn child.

Courtney was driving on her learner's permit, with her mother in the car as well, when they were struck by another driver going 155 miles per hour.

"She was pronounced brain dead the day after the wreck and it left me in a hospital for a month and a half," said Courtney's mother, Dawn Sterling.

It was at that time Courtney's father, Michael Sterling, said he had to make a difficult decision of whether to allow Courtney's organs to be donated.

"It was a decision that I thought may save lives, and although as hard as it was, it just seemed the right thing to do," said Michael Sterling.

Breana was next on the list for a new heart. Her family received the phone call last February and rushed her to Children's Medical Center for the surgery.

The transplant was a success, and three months later, Breana was able to return to school.

"What someone would say is a bad day for them, I'm like, 'I got to live today,' so that's awesome. Nothing is bad!" said Breana.

Now, a year after the transplant, Breana remains healthy and is a high school graduate.

The Sterlings came in town to share in her graduation ceremony.

"It's been very exciting, seeing Bre graduate, considering that's the closest to a graduation we're going to get for Courtney," said Dawn Sterling.

Right after the trial for the woman who killed their daughters was over, Dawn Sterling flew to Dallas to meet the Bladels in April.

Breana calls Dawn Sterling her Godmother.

"I was excited that all my family got to come. Now she's part of my family,” Breana said.

The Sterlings plan to be there for more of Breana's life milestones. They are now united with the Bladels for life by the heart of their daughter.

"She had a really big heart. I am so happy to be carrying it for her," said Breana.

According to Donate Life Texas, more than 11,600 Texans are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. For more information on the Texas Donor Registry, visit: https://www.donatelifetexas.org/.

Contact Us