The Angel that gave me life again
My Journey began when I was thirteen years old. I was a happy and healthy 13 year old teenage girl. But soon my life was going to be turned upside down. I was living everyday as I should. The worst of my problems might be what I was going to wear to school or where and what would I be doing on the weekend. I played lacrosse, softball, basketball, danced and was a champion competitive baton twirler.
One day that all changed abruptly.
As I was playing lacrosse, I was out of breath and almost fainted. I started having horrific stomach pains. That weekend my parents took me back and forth to our family doctor and even to the hospital. They thought my period was coming, maybe it was a virus or a urinary tract infection. I tried to go to a baton competition on Saturday, but I was too sick to compete. The judges took one look at me and told me to go home. They would not penalize me toward requirements for the grand championship coming up in May.
Finally on Monday I was admitted to the hospital. They told my parents perhaps I had twisted ovaries. Worst case scenario I would not be able to have children. My parents agreed to exploratory surgery. They took my appendix and my ovaries were okay.
I went into cardiac arrest. They did not tell my parents. I was the size of a Macy’s balloon when I was wheeled from surgery.
My parents were told I was okay. They sent my parents home and after two hours called them up. They said your daughter is dying of heart failure. She needs a heart transplant. Imagine getting this news via the phone. My parents came back. It was a long night. My mom stayed and sent my dad home.
I made it to the next day but doctors felt I would not survive an ambulance ride to Columbia Presbyterian. My parents were told to bring everyone to say goodbye. My younger brother, who had open heart surgery as a two year old came, my aunt and uncle a family friend who was a priest also came.
The priest friend gave my last rites.
There was one doctor there that would be able to change my life.
He was able to stabilize me just enough to ambulance to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in the city . Maybe with some gleam of hope I could receive a second chance at life.
They ambulanced me to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. When I woke, I was greeted by many different doctors. I was told I needed a heart transplant. I did not even know what a heart transplant was. It was a long wait in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. I entered April 2 and went home July 20. I waited 4 1/2 months for a life saving organ; a second chance at life.
I had a broviac tube, which is a permanent IV in your chest to get medicine 24 hours a day , seven days a week. The doctors had to use medicine to keep my heart pumping. I could only use a wheel chair to get around even moving from the bed to the doctor was tough.
I had trouble eating food, constant stomaches and lots of vomiting. I needed a life saving transplant because I had a disease called acute cardiomyopathy which can come on suddenly.
Memorial Day came and went. Parents know that on a holiday more organs become available due to accidents one family’s sorrow is another families joy. Yet still I waited. My heart was getting weaker . They added a third medicine drip. Finally I received my second chance of life after the July 4 holiday .
On July 6, 1996, I a thirteen year old girl , received a heart from Matthew, a fourteen year old boy. He was my angel. I often feel him looking down on me.
There’s been many ups and downs in life but I am able to have a life, the good the bad , the in between…
I was able to graduate from college with a social work degree, coach baton twirling, ride roller coasters and just live my life to the fullest…
I’m 29 years old now and living each and every day to the fullest because you never know when it will be your last . I’ve been doing the American Heart Association heart walk for 16 years , speak at high schools on organ donation awareness with
TRIO ( Transplant Recipients International Organization ) Long Island Chapter, and I also work with The NYODN
( New York Organ Donor Network).
Volunteering is a way of giving back for me…
I do this because I got the best gift, You can receive — the gift of life, the gift of second chance.
Thank you to my donor and my donor family. You are my Angels and I could never repay you for the gift of breath.