STYLE
12/18/2013 08:51 EST | Updated 02/17/2014 05:59 EST

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. - Deanna Kremis remembers the exhilarating day her young sons first had the energy to race each other up a flight of stairs.

The brothers, then ages 7 and 10, could barely walk before having heart transplants just a month apart. As they flew up the steps two at a time, jostling and shouting, she recalled, "my friend turned to me and said, 'Are YOU ready to get one now?'"