Ashley has cystic fibrosis, but her new lungs don't. That's good news, because it was the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in her old lungs that was killing her.
So much so that in November 2009, her last stint in the hospital - the one that landed her on the transplant list - Ashley began the agonizing process of writing goodbye letters to her family.
Charlotte stayed with her daughter around the clock.
"When you're that sick," Ashley says, "it's like when you're little. You just want your mom with you to help you feel better."
An unexpected hero
During Ashley's hospitalization, Francisco "Paco" Rodriguez, a 25-year-old super bantamweight from Chicago, entered the ring for his title shot against Tean Kennedy at the Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia.
Paco had trained hard. "He wanted to be a hero," his wife, Sonia, told ESPN's news magazine show, E:60.
But the fight was stopped in the 10th round. Paco had collapsed in the ring, his brain swelling and bleeding. On Nov. 22, he was declared dead.
His lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver, and heart saved the lives of four women, including Ashley and Alexis Sloan of East Norriton, who received Paco's heart.
Ashley's transplant surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania marveled that Paco's lungs were among the healthiest he had ever transplanted.
"Pristine" was how the doctor described them.
So on this Mother's Day, rather than grieving her daughter's death, Charlotte Owens has a wedding to help plan. On June 25, Ashley will marry Jesse Quinter. Alexis, who has grown close to Ashley like a sister, will read a poem.
Ashley has invited the Rodriguez family, too, which Charlotte hopes will give her the opportunity to thank Sonia Rodriguez again.
"Paco didn't die to give Ashley lungs," Charlotte says. "It was Sonia's choice [to donate]. Without her feeling that way, I wouldn't have my daughter today."
Heart from Paco
In a way, it's fitting that Alexis received Paco's heart, because she sure has a lot of it.
"Paco's family tells me I'm just like him," the bubbly 27-year-old says. "They tell me I act goofy and crack jokes on people, just like he did."
Before her transplant, Alexis, who suffered from congestive heart failure passed down by her mother, coped with an implanted pacemaker that "made me feel like a robot."
After her transplant, in November 2009, she awoke to beautiful music - the sound of Paco's heart beating inside her.
"It was so strong. I thought it was too loud. I wasn't used to it."
And when she met Paco's mother in Chicago a year later, Alexis took Maria Rodriguez's hand and placed it on her heart so she could feel it, too.
These days, both Ashley and Alexis volunteer for the Gift of Life Donor Program, which is pivotal in raising awareness and helped connect them with the Rodriguez family.
"Eight people can be saved by organs alone," Alexis says. "And tissue donation, so many more. I've even heard of doctors using [donated] veins and arteries to help people walk. It's crazy."
Which, says Alex Rodriguez, Paco's older brother, serves as the ultimate Mother's Day gift for his own mother.
"She told me to tell you she feels calm and happy," says Alex, translating for his mother via phone from Chicago. "She said, 'I know Paco is not gone. He'll never be gone. It makes me feel good to know that he continues to live.' "
To contact Gift of Life, go to http://www.donors1.org.
Contact me at 215-854-4986 or Ajohnhall@phillynews.com. Follow me on Twitter @Annettejh. Read the Blinq blog: www.philly.com/blinq.