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Brookhaven heart recipient: ‘It was the best thing I ever got’

A Brookhaven mom’s heart is overflowing with love for three children she’s never met.

Their own mother’s heart beats inside Doris Arnold’s chest, ticking a steady rhythm since her transplant May 9, 2016.

The 64-year-old didn’t ask Santa for a single thing this year. A new life pretty much topped anything else she could have received.

“It was the best thing I ever got,” she said. “I can’t ask for no more. I ain’t got to have any gifts.”

Seeing another Christmas a year and a half after her transplant is bittersweet. While her family is excited, another family she doesn’t know is going through their second Christmas without their mother.

“I appreciate them. I can never thank them enough,” she said. “I want to keep in touch with them, because I’ve got their mother’s heart, if there’s anything I can do for them.”

Arnold and her four adult children — Chris Arnold, Selina Arnold, Lashanya Kelly and Patrick Shannon — sent a thank you card to the family through the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency.

“We put a thank you card in there thanking them and basically telling them what she does now, and how she’s enjoying her new heart, how’s she’s able to do more, to get out and do more community service and spend time with her family,” Kelly said.

Arnold received a letter back from the donor’s oldest child, Melissa, about their mother Daphne.

“I want to thank you so very much for reaching out to my family about receiving my mom’s heart,” she wrote. “We are so very honored that she was able to help save someone in her passing. It is just truly amazing how God can take something tragic and use it for something beautiful, and I am sure you are more than beautiful.”

She said her mother immigrated with six sisters from the Philippines to Los Angeles when she was 19. Her three children are 25, 22 and 20.

The oldest, who penned the letter, is a science teacher in Arkansas, the youngest daughter is stationed in California in the U.S. Navy and the baby is a cheer captain for a university team.

Daphne was a Zumba dance instructor at a gym in Arkansas.

“She always took up on mountain hiking adventures or 35-mile bike rides for fun,” Melissa wrote. “She was very active and we hope that her heart has you feeling energetic as ever.”

Arnold plans to travel to Arkansas to meet Daphne’s children. She wants to love them like her own.

“My heart’s going to even be full of more joy,” she said.

Melissa thanked Arnold for reaching out to them, and is open to a meeting soon.

“You have made our hearts sing with joy just by knowing that her heart lives on in you,” she wrote. “We are so beyond overjoyed that you can hug and kiss your family as we all know how precious the time is with the people we love and cherish.”