MIDWAY — A Midway family who lost a daughter to a failed organ transplant is being honored by a Hurricane man doing a bike ride across the state.
John McDonald and his family have had a hard time moving on after their daughter Mia died in 2012 when her body rejected her heart transplant.
"Mia lived four years as a normal, healthy child, and we never would have had that," McDonald said. "I think the biggest part of trying to pick up the pieces is trying to figure out how to continue on."
Mia was born in 2008 with a faulty heart, but was given a second chance at life as the recipient of an organ donation. In October 2012, the family took a trip to Walt Disney World sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
However, while the family was in Florida, Mia's body began to reject the heart transplant. During a biopsy, she went into cardiac arrest and suffered brain damage. The family took her off life support and donated her organs after Mia passed away.
"I never quite understood what it was to give organs, especially with your child," McDonald said. "It's terrible and it's wonderful at the same time."
Mia's story inspired a stranger nearly 300 miles away. Daniel McKeehan is a high school teacher and coach from Hurricane, Utah. He is also an avid cyclist.
"I've got children that are Mia's age, and it really hit home to me," McKeehan said. "This is a family that's had to pay for a heart transplant. They just lost their daughter and there's got to be mounting medical bills."
McKeehan decided to create a 500-mile bike ride from Tremonton to St. George for Mia. He hopes the ride will raise awareness for organ donation. He knows firsthand the importance of organ donation after his wife was a heart valve transplant recipient.
John and his wife will join for part of the bike ride in honor of their little girl.
"She'd probably want to be along for the ride," McDonald said.
McDonald and McKeehan will begin the ride Memorial Day weekend and are inviting anyone who wants to join, even for just part of the route.
An account* has also been set up for the family at Zions Bank called "Mia McDonald Donation."