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She received his daughter’s heart — now they’re running a marathon

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Shae Brown, who received a heart transplant in 2013, is going to run the Chicago Marathon with the father of her heart donor. JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When Shae Brown runs her first marathon this weekend, she’ll do it alongside the father of the woman whose heart beats inside her chest.

Brown, 49, underwent a lifesaving transplant in 2013. A chemotherapy drug dubbed the Red Devil, used to treat the cancer that developed in the muscle surrounding her stomach as a teenager, had progressively weakened her heart.

By the time she was 36, she needed a pacemaker. Five years later, in 2012, doctors placed her on the heart transplant list. On May 20, 2013, she received the ultimate gift — the heart of a 24-year-old woman who’d grown up in Chicago, Alyssa Miller.

On Sunday, Alyssa’s 62-year-old dad, Fred Miller, will join Brown at the start of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The two plan to run side by side for 26.2 miles to honor Alyssa and celebrate the new life she gave Brown.

Neither knows exactly what to expect. Miller thought his marathoning days were over, but when Brown mentioned she’d always wanted to run a marathon, he changed his mind. Running with her, he believes, will help keep a part of his daughter alive.

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