Reporting Denise Koch
PASADENA, Md. (WJZ)—It’s an amazing story of two Maryland teens. A tragedy and a tie that connects them forever.
It sounds like a movie, but as Denise Koch tells us, what happened is all too real.
The death of one teen bringing new life for the other is a story of pain followed by promise.
It was a dark night on a dark road in Pasadena when a SUV hit and killed a young boy and then sped off without stopping.
“Someone took my boy’s life, took his life away, 15 years old,” said Mike Marion, victim’s father.
At the same time, another boy lied in a hospital bed, fighting for his life. A genetic defect meant his heart would soon fail.
“Do you know how hard it is to match a heart?” said his mother Denise Wilkerson.
The chain of events that brought these two Pasadena families together at the University of Maryland hospital is nothing short of miraculous.
Denise Koch: “It’s a one in a million story, isn’t it?”
“If I saw this story on the Hallmark Channel I wouldn’t have believed it,” Wilkerson said.
As the father of 15-year-old Skylar Marion came to the horrible realization his son will never wake up from the accident, he learned another boy in the same hospital was in dire need of a new heart. He went to his son’s bedside to make a heroic choice.
“Skylar’s life got taken away from him and the only way to keep him going on is share him, and that’s what I figured to do,” said Mike Marion.
It was a life-changing moment for 15-year-old Kyle Wilkerson and his family, who had heard from friends about Skylar’s tragic accident.
Denise Koch: “Do you remember how soon after this accident it was that the doctor came in and said ‘we have a heart?’”
Denise Wilkerson: “It was Monday, the 15th, in the evening at 6:25 when Dr. Feller came in.”
Denise Koch: “You know exactly when it was?”
Denise Wilkerson: “Yes, I do. He opened his eyes and he looked at her and he said ‘Is it Skylar’s?”
Denise Koch: “Do you remember that?”
Kyle Wilkerson nods his head.
Denise Koch: ”How did you feel when she said yes?”
Kyle Wilkerson: “Sad. Sad.”
Even after his heart wrenching choice, Mike Marion didn’t realize the two boys had known each other for years.
Denise Koch: “You had gone to the same elementary schools together?”
Kyle Wilkerson: “Since second grade.”
“Then I found out that they rode bikes together,” Mike Marion said.
“So Skylar had been here and Kyle had been over at their house,” said Denise Wilkerson.
Even though Skylar’s dad wanted Kyle to get his son’s heart, complicated pieces needed to fall into place.
“Everything else has to align: the blood type, the size, the medical history, so everything else has to be perfect. That’s even more unusual. And in this case it was perfect,” said Dr. Erika Feller, Kyle’s cardiologist.
“This whole community came together for me and my family and Kyle’s family,” said Mike Marion.
Hundreds turned out for Skylar’s memorial, including Kyle’s mom.
“Mr. Marion hugged me like I did him a favor,” said Denise Wilkerson. “And thanked me. And the whole time I’m here to thank him. He was grateful that it was a match and that his son could go on.”
Denise Koch: “You’re now connected to these people forever.”
“Knowing that I have his heart, he still lives on,” said Kyle Wilkerson.
Yet another unusual twist to the story, Kyle’s father had the same genetic defect and had a heart transplant eight years ago.
Both he and Kyle are doing great, and doctors say their prognosis is excellent.
Anne Arundel County police are still searching for the driver who struck and killed Skylar. If you have any information, please call investigators at 410-222-8610.