The Tearjerking Story Behind BJ's Heart Transplant On General Hospital

Barbara Jean "BJ" Jones was born to the popular "General Hospital" character Tony Jones (Brad Maule) and his first wife Tania Roskov (Hilary Edson) in 1986. BJ was named after the nurse Barbara Jean "Bobbie" Spencer (Jacklyn Zeman) who helped Tania give birth alone during a Port Charles power outage (via Soaps in Depth). Unfortunately, the next year Tania died after being struck by a car. Later, when Bobbie and Tony were married, Bobbie officially adopted the little girl that she had always loved as her own.

The role of BJ was played by child actress Brighton Hertford from 1986 to 1994. Hertford went on to appear in popular movies like "The Parent Trap" and "Return to Halloweentown," amongst other roles. Tragically, her "GH" character was killed off at the young age of 7 in some of the soap's most iconic scenes. Although it's been years, the name might be familiar to new viewers as well since BJ is still occasionally mentioned on the show to this day — particularly by Bobbie and BJ's cousin Maxie Jones.

For viewers who might not know the heartbreaking backstory of little BJ Jones and what happened to her, let's take a trip down memory lane.

BJ Jones was in an accident and declared brain-dead

In 1994, Tony Jones and Bobbie Spencer were horrified to learn that BJ Jones was injured in an accident when her school bus was struck by a drunk driver (via Soaps in Depth). Though she was rushed to the hospital, it was soon clear that the little girl was brain-dead.

At the same time, BJ's cousin Maxie Jones (then Robyn Richards) was very ill and in desperate need of a heart transplant. Tony suggested to Bobbie that they donate BJ's heart, but his wife was too distraught to accept that their daughter was gone and how time-sensitive the situation was. To make matters worse, Tony and Bobbie were not communicating very well because he had caught her having an affair with the mobster Damian Smith (Leigh McCloskey) that very same day.

Tony told Bobbie, "You know what massive brain damage means. You're a nurse," to which she replied, "I'm a mother," (via Soaps). He went on to say, "BJ is dead. Maxie's dying. We don't have time to debate this ... Accept it before another little girl dies."

Eventually, Bobbie agreed to the transplant, and BJ's heart was given to Maxie in a shocking twist. Maxie and her parents Felicia (Kristina Wagner) and Frisco Jones (Jack Wagner) were all devastated to lose BJ but eternally grateful. To this day, Bobbie and Maxie get together on BJ's birthday to celebrate her short but meaningful life.

Tony Jones grieved his daughter by listening to her heart beat in Maxie Jones' chest

In the moments following the transplant, Brad Maule performed a scene that would be talked about for decades to come and earn him a Daytime Emmy nomination — TV Guide even named it the second greatest soap opera moment of all time.

"General Hospital" fans all over the country reached for tissues as they watched Tony Jones go to see his niece Maxie Jones after her surgery. He laid his head down on her chest and listened to his daughter BJ's heart beating (via Soaps in Depth).

Maule spoke to TV Insider about what that scene meant to him. He said, "When I was 13, my brother, who was four years older than I am, died from a heart issue. It was a significant moment in my life. I saw what happens to a family from a vantage point of a little kid watching his parents grieve. When we played the [BJ] story, I felt transported back into my own life and losing my brother. So, that's where a lot of the reality came from that people saw."