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8-year-old transplant recipient bonds with family of late 5-year-old donor

Two families felt an immediate bond when they met for the first time on Wednesday.
/ Source: TODAY

Two families felt an immediate bond when they met for the first time on Wednesday.

Luis and Evelyn Morales traveled from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh to visit Kyree Beachem at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where the 8-year-old girl has been recovering from surgery after receiving an organ from their daughter, Arianna, on Nov. 25.

The Morales and Beachem familiesCourtesy of Nan Beachem

Arianna died on Nov. 20 at the age of 5 after having difficulty breathing. She was diagnosed with holoprosencephaly, a condition in which the brain doesn't properly grow and divide, but doctors have yet to determine if this was linked to her cause of death.

A friend of both families saw the story and connected them. Kyree had been waiting for an organ for five years after her bowel failed in 2010.

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"It was amazing to meet Kyree and her mom," Evelyn Morales, who has two other young children, told "They were very loving and welcoming and it felt like we've known them our entire lives."

The feeling was mutual.

"I never knew it was possible to feel so bonded with someone you've never met before," Nan Beachem, Kyree's mom, told

They sat in the hospital room and talked for hours, which led to discovering Arianna and Kyree's many similarities, such as big dimples and a love for guitar, baseball, Tinkerbell and "Frozen."

Kyree BeachemCourtesy of Nan Beachem

"Kyree reminded us of our daughter in many ways, but the biggest reason was her strength," Morales said. "It brought me comfort to see such a fighter."

They also spoke about their struggles with both of the girls' conditions. Even though they were different, the families could relate to the feeding tubes, doctor's appointments and hospitalizations.

"Not a lot of people understand that type of life — that type of normal," Morales said.

They both also know what it's like to lose a young child. Beachem, mom to four biological children and four adopted children, lost her 7-year-old son in 2006.

"It was very important to me when they said they wanted to come meet us," Beachem said. "If it was going to help their healing process, I wanted to do anything I could to help."

Kyree likes to sit and admire her "transplant tree," which is filled with ornaments from 2015, so she'll always remember this special Christmas.

Kyree holding up the ornaments the Moraleses brought, which feature both of the girls' initialsCourtesy of Nan Beachem

When the Morales family found out, they brought ornaments for Kyree, both to decorate the tree and serve as a reminder of Arianna.

Ornaments that the Moraleses brought, which feature Kyree and Arianna's facesCourtesy of Nan Beachem

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An ornament the Moraleses brought KyreeCourtesy of Nan Beachem

Kyree was previously unable to digest food and instead traveled with IV tubes, which fed her nutrients. She's slowly becoming able to digest food and has a long list of what she's planning to chow down on, but is most looking forward to nachos.

Kyree BeachemCourtesy of Nan Beachem

She will soon be moved to the Ronald McDonald House, an entity of her current hospital, to finish the recovery process, which her doctors predict will take a couple of months.

The families have talked every day since their visit and already have a trip planned to attend a Phillies/Pirates game in the spring.