|On February 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm I received a phone call that has forever changed my life, a real heart for Valentine’s Day.
For 27 years I was misdiagnosed and battled heart disease. I was referred to Cincinnati Children’s hospital in 2011 for a Heart catheterization upon waking from the procedure and the look on everyone’s face I knew something was wrong. I was diagnosed with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, a rare form of heart muscle disease. The physicians proceeded to tell me that I was in heart failure & there is no cure for restrictive cardiomyopathy. Eventually, I would need a heart transplant. Over the next year I was treated with medicines to help with the diseased heart but the progression of the heart failure only got worse. I started the process to be listed on the UNOS (United Network for Organ sharing) list. I was finally listed at the end of October of 2013. I continued to work everyday even though my heart failure team insisted that I didn’t. My heart was getting weaker and was going out of rhythm more and more. It was requiring me to be cardioverted about every week sometimes more. I had a ICD placed (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) and the talk of needing a mechanical heart was on the rise.
I was at the top of the transplant list with physicians stating that I had 5 days to live when my miracle call came on February 13th. I made it to the hospital and went to the Operating room around 10 pm that night. For such a major surgery I was very calm. I remember climbing over onto the operating table and the amazing nurses were so happy for me and said that I was the first transplanted heart of 2014 at Cincinnati Children’s. The heart was placed and beating on its own early Valentine’s day morning. Waking up to what doctors call a perfect heart & a perfect match was amazing.
My heart donor’s mother (Donna) reached out to me a year later. Since then I have met my donor family and have became very close with them. My donor, Blake signed up on the Ohio registry on his 21st birthday. Not knowing that in 3 short months his wish to saves lives would become a reality. I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for my heart hero. Blake was able to save not only my life but 4 others through organ donation and also enhanced the lives of many others through tissue donation. I am forever grateful for his decision.
My goal in life is that everyone knows about my heart hero, Blake. I was transplanted in Ohio so over the past three years we have been on several billboards, several news channels, calendar & other events. I am a KY resident so in the past year I have worked with the AHA and I have told our story on the radio, in crowds for heart walks, in magazines, fashions shows & newspapers. Blake’s passion in life was music. He loved the spot light. I am here because of him so anytime I can get him in the spot light, through me, we are doing it. He is my inspiration to keep going.
My favorite quote is “Don’t take your organs to Heaven, Heaven knows we need them here.”
Organ donation means LIFE for me.