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Heart & double lung transplant
I want to share my story about celebrating life and dedicate this letter to the people on the transplant list, my message to them is not to give up because miracles do happen.
I was born with a congenital heart defect, a hole in my ventricle (VSD) and developed at an early age pulmonary hypertension. This condition is called Eisenmenger’s Syndrome.
My childhood was far from being normal, sports and exercise were forbidden, and I remember having fainting spells often until my teenager years. My fingers and lips were purple, at any effort. Determination and the need to feel normal were extremely important for me.
With the years I became more short of breath and needed oxygen to survive. I had oxygen 24 hours a day during my last 3 years. Needless to say, I was starting to feel hopeless and asked to be transferred to a transplant unit.
Facing our biggest fear but following our hearts, we moved to St. Thomas not knowing a soul in the region and hoping to be accepted at London Health Sciences Centre. Life was not easy, but being too proud to let anyone know that I was devastated and felt that my life was slowly fading away. Not having my family and friends with me was one of the hardest things. The only comfort I could really count on was that my husband was by my side and became an expert on how to cope with someone you love, when they are fighting with a life or death battle, while waiting for organs.
I was assessed and did exercise three times a week to keep my body in shape for the big day. I had two dry runs and slowly life started deteriorating quickly, even then I knew I was going to make it.
Finally my surgery did happen and took about ten hours. It was a slow beginning; everything went wrong at first. Kidney failure, infections, a hard time getting off the ventilator, had to have a track mask, I had to learn how to walk and talk again. I made little goals every day and made sure I would achieve them. I became oxygen free and on the way to recovery. Presently I feel great and I am active in sports and participated in the 2005 World Transplant Games.
All this couldn’t have happened without those courageous and dedicated doctors and nurses in the LHSC Transplant Unit who always believed in me, and the remarkable ICU staff who helped me to breathe on my own each day.
Thank you to my lovely husband who was my motivator, to my sister who put her life on hold to be with us … I love you both!, and to family and friends who were my support group and to God who answered my prayers.
And to all the donor and donor families who without them transplant wouldn’t exist and miracles wouldn’t happen, and for my donor family, Thank You for giving me the gift that has no price, and the gesture that will never be forgotten.