Woman Donates Daughter's Heart to Best Friend

After Vicki Olds' daughter Nikki died after a swimming accident, she knew she would donate the heart to her life-long friend Tanisha Basham.

When a donor has a pre-existing relationship with a potential recipient, it’s what is called direct organ donation.

“She was 100 percent match,” Olds said. “What I was told by the gift of hope that's one in a million chance. You may be 5 or 10 percent match but never 100 percent match.”

Tanisha was terminally ill, and had been waiting 18 months for a donor. At first she resisted the idea.

“I saw Nikki grow up,” Basham said. “She's the same age as my daughter.”

But because it was such a perfect match -- and Olds insisted -- Tanisha had a heart transplant last June. It was performed at the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

“Fortunately the match was proper, the size was proper,” said Dr. Antone Tatooles. “It was the right heart for her. So far so good.”

“When I first woke up from my transplant I heart this booming loud sound,” Basham said. “I said ‘oh my gosh,’ what is that noise and the nurse said to me that's your hear and I just started crying.”
In all, four lives were saved with Nikki's organs.

Now Tanisha and Vicki want to encourage others to become organ donors with a public service announcement. A foundation has also been started, called "Smile for Nikki."

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