'I feel like she's still living': The moment mother heard her murdered baby daughter's heart beating in the chest of boy, three
New life: Kara Mellick listens to the heart of her daughter Karlie which now beats within three-year-old Faris Samara. Karlie was battered to death by Mellick's former boyfriend three years ago
When Kara Mellick's nine-month-old daughter was battered to death by a former boyfriend while she was at work, she knew she would never be at peace with her passing.
But now, three years on, the mourning mother has found some solace by hearing her daughter's heart beat - inside the chest of a three-year-old boy who would not have survived without it.
Kara, from Clarksville, Indiana decided to donate Karlie's organs after she was left brain dead by horrific injuries at the hands of Matthew Vaughn in June 2009.
Faris Samara was 11 months old and on the verge of heart failure when he received the organ.
Welcome: Faris immediately took to Kara (L) and Allison (R), who travelled from Indiana to Chicago to see him
This week, Kara travelled with her mother, Allison Ellis, to meet Faris and his mother Sam at their home in Illinois for 'closure', she told the Louisville Courier Journal.
After using a stethoscope to hear her daughter's heart inside Faris's chest, she said: 'I feel she is still living. She is not gone. Her body is gone, but her heart is still there.'
On hearing the heartbeat, he mother Allison added: 'I was so happy to hear it beating. I wanted it to save somebody. Now, I so want to watch him grow up. It’s like I got a new grandbaby.'
The meeting came as relief for Sam too, who said she has always been haunted by the heartbreak Kara had to suffer in order for her own child to be alive.
Connection: Kara's mother Allison Ellis, left, listens to Faris's heartbeat as his mother Sam embraces her. 'It's like I got a new grandbaby,' Allison said of the boy
Support: Sam hugs Allison outside the home as Faris, who suffered a life-threatening heart defect, looks on
'I’m sorry for what you went through,' she told Kara on meeting her. 'I’m sorry Karlie had to die so my son could live.' She called Karlie 'an angel' who will always be part of the Samara family.
Faris was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where parts of the left side of the heart do not develop fully. He was at danger of suffering heart failure when Karlie died.
In the weeks before the baby girl's death, she was starting to crawl and pull herself up - but her mother had also started to notice bruises on her daughter and thought she had fallen at daycare.
When she was called to work on a Sunday, she left Karlie with her boyfriend Matthew Vaughn. He later emailed her: 'The baby is making me crazy. Every time I walk out of the room she starts crying.'
Donor: Karlie Mellick was just nine-months-old when she was shaken and thrown to the floor
Vaughn later told police he shook the baby and threw her to the floor, leaving her with a fatal head injury, a broken skull, broken ribs and limbs.
The little girl was unresponsive at hospital that afternoon. Despite his part in the brutal attack, Vaughn - who is now serving 17 years in jail - held Kara and told her that everything would be fine.
Doctors told the mother that Karlie would either die or live in a vegetative state.
She said she wanted to keep her alive but thought of what was best for her daughter. 'I knew I was going to donate her organs,' Kara said. 'It wasn’t a hard decision.'
Grief: Kara said the pain of losing Karlie has not eased but she now felt her daughter was living on in Faris
Closure: The visit also came as solace for Faris's mother, Sam Samara, who said she has always struggled with the knowledge that another mother had to lose a child so that hers could live
She added that she is still struggling to come to terms with the death. 'They've told me that things get better but no they don't,' she said. 'It does not get better.'
As the family buried Karlie, Sam feared Faris - the youngest of her and husband Khalid's four boys - would not survive after a series of operations.
With his condition worsening and his weight dropping, doctors said he would only survive with a heart transplant, but warned the chances of getting one were low.
And even when Karlie's heart came, Sam could not rest easy, knowing someone had lost their child. 'I just kept breaking down,' she said. 'I felt so much responsibility.'
The surgery went well; Faris is now healthy, active and loves to dance and read with his parents. He will have to take medicine for the rest of his life so his body does not reject the heart.
Remembered: Kara gave Sam a memorial T-shirt for Faris bearing her daughter's photograph
Hope: Kara (right) said donating Karlie's heart to Faris (left with his father Khalid) was not a tough decision
Life-changing: Faris was 11 months old and near death from heart failure when he received Karlie's heart. He is now three, active and healthy, and loves to dance and read with his parents
On Karlie’s tombstone a poem reads: 'My heart is beating in a baby like me/My kidneys are helping a father in Tennessee/My liver, pancreas and intestines are … in another little girl. … I’m alive and well in these lives of three.'
Kara said she was looking for 'closure' from the meeting with the Samaras. She gave Faris a teddy with his name on one leg, and Karlie's name on the other with the words: 'My heart belongs to you.'
Kara is hoping to help other children by working towards a nursing degree at Indiana University Southeast and works with Kosair Children’s Hospital to lead campaigns to end child abuse deaths.
And she said she was comforted by the meeting, with Sam assuring her that Karlie's spirit lives on 'deep down inside' of her son. 'Karlie is a fighter for him,' she said.
She added that she has left her job as a special services teacher to stay home and care for Faris - who still suffers eating and speaking problems after having tubes in his mouth for so long.
She added: 'We want to let Kara know that the child’s life will not go in vain.'