Somewhere a 37-year-old woman lies in a hospital bed, her faith diminishing as quickly as her body. A man sits alone without hope. The deep blue eyes of a 7-year-old child peer through a window at children riding their bikes, wishing she could join them. This was the devastating emotion my family and I experienced after I was suddenly stricken with end-stage heart failure on January 2, 1993. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and sorrow plagued my husband and daughter — reminders of the realization that I was going to die or that someone else had to die in order for me to live.
The very thought of living a long life is something that many of us take for granted, while someone faces a challenge to awake every morning and pray for each tomorrow, and believe me, I prayed continuously. I begged the Lord to grant me a second chance, to allow me to live long enough to see my adopted daughter grow, graduate, get married and have children, and to grow old with my loving husband. We would not be able to do this without a heart transplant and my Savior up above.
Amid hopelessness and despair, with a heart function of only 9%, I was given a miracle: I would receive a second chance at life. On January 17, 1993, I received my new heart.
Today I am blessed with a good quality of life and live each day to its fullest. Although I’ve had to give up my direct patient nursing career, I have remained in the medical field and am able to work part-time. I volunteer with various organ donation groups, and have even started “Change of Heart, Inc.”, a support group for transplant recipients.
My transplant has taught me to “take it one day at a time”, as the song says. I spend more time with family and friends. I’m able to spend more time with my daughter, enjoying school and social outings, and have even taught her to drive. I enjoy camping, reading, volunteering with Special Olympics, have been on two Bahamas cruises, and just celebrated my 29th wedding anniversary with my husband. I have been blessed.
There is hope, however, for those with little hope, for there are compassionate individuals that have declared their wishes to be organ donors. Please indicate your wishes to your family and ask them to honor your request.
I thank my donor family each day for the selfless decision they made in fulfilling my donor’s wishes and allowing me that second chance of life.
“Don’t take your organs to Heaven…Heaven knows we need them here.”