I was a healthy 40-year old woman living in Spokane, Washington. Not overweight, no high cholesterol, no high blood pressure, non-smoker, organic, mostly vegetarian diet, no family history of heart disease-my doctors saw no reason to be concerned about my heart. Yet after that first heart attack, I endured 32 heart catheterizations, 11 stents, two open-heart surgeries, and a thoracotomy that was part of an experimental program to grow new vessels around my heart. All this occurred in only three years.
In May of 2005, I was placed on the heart transplant list after surviving cardiac arrest two times. With 70 people here in the Northwest waiting for a heart ahead of me, my transplant surgeon estimated it would be nine months to a year before I was called. We all knew I did not have that much time. He broke the news to me in the bleakness of my hospital room.
The very next morning, much to everyone’s surprise, he came in with a consent form for a heart transplant. He had a heart for me. “How?” I asked in amazement. A donor heart was taken off the transplant list because it needed too much repair to be suitable for a recipient. But my surgeon was willing to repair it, bring it back, and transplant in me. I asked him, “Why do you think it will work for me?”
His answer, “Because this is the one God has for you!” I trusted his judgment and faith in God and signed the form. He was taken by helicopter to a local airport where a Leer jet met him for the trip to Seattle. The repairs were done and the transplant was successful.
Although things went well the first few months, I contracted a cancerous type virus from the transplanted heart and the only viable treatment was chemotherapy. After nine months of chemo twice a day-the virus became dormant. It is a permanent virus but my hope is that it will not surface again.
Shortly after recovering from chemo, I broke my right knee and leg in two places putting me in a wheelchair for 12 weeks. After that was behind me I found out now that I may possibly face another bout of chemotherapy for cervical cancer. By a miracle, the cervical cancer was healed before the need for surgery or chemo!
And, as of May 12, 2011, I became the FIRST and ONLY person in the world to receive a pancreas transplant six years after a heart transplant! Since the first pancreas transplant in 1966, there have only been seven attempts to perform a pancreas transplant on a heart transplant recipient, and each were done within one year. Only four are alive. The last attempt was in 1994. According to US National Library of Medicine, NIH, National Institutes of Health,
Pancreas transplant surgery may NOT be done in patients who also have: … Severe heart disease (such as heart failure, poorly controlled angina, or severe coronary artery disease) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003007.htm
And as of today, July 3, 2012, I’m doing GREAT!
How about your physical heart? Is your physical heart well cared for? Do you research heart health information? Click on the Community pages button at the top of the page and learn how to protect your heart.
How about your emotional and spiritual heart? Your emotional health and spiritual state effect both your person and your heart. I wish I could sit down you and a cup of coffee to find out more and offer you what I have learned. For now, you can explore my social sites, blog, and books by using the links to the right. If you have a question, contact me here.
I am passionate and intent on sharing my story of perseverance and how God has sustained my family and I during many years of turmoil and tragedy. Regardless of what comes my way, I am happy to be alive and trust that God will be with me every step of every hurdle.