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I was born with cyanotic congenital heart disease meaning I was blue in color, ASD (a hole between the chambers), vsd (abnormal communication between pumping chambers), transposition of the great vessels (the aorta and pulmonary artery were misplaced) and pulmonary stenosis (restricted blood flow to the lungs. My parents were told that it was a miracle I was alive at all and would not live to be one. But, with God’s grace combined with a positive outlook and faith, I managed to beat the odds.
Throughout life I was restricted from physical activities. Although limited I felt normal. I was able to do any activity I wanted, even though I became easily fatigued. Since the early 70’s Leachman Cardiologists and The Texas Heart Institute at
St. Luke’s Hospital have monitored me closely. With routine medications, therapeutic phlebotomies (blood letting) and frequent hospital visits, my condition regressed slowly enough to where I adjusted with each setback. My prognosis had been so grim I became immune to hearing it. Physically I did not feel as bad as the doctors said I was supposed to feel. With each setback, I thought I would get some medication, rest a few days, and be better, usually I was!
Throughout life I was told of the great risk in operating. Although everything was backward somehow it worked. Technology needed to catch up to me. In 1984, another miracle took place and I had a baby boy. He was delivered with minimal complications, a preemie but healthy. He is now 26 years old. Eventually we learned delivering a baby caused a major progression in my condition. In 1990, in addition to my other complications, I got a cough, which wouldn’t go away. I was diagnosed as needing a heart/double lung transplant to survive.
In January 1999, 9 years later after lots of hope and prayer, I was declining rapidly. I knew that I was not getting better and agreed to a transplant. I could not walk through the house, wash my hair, or take care of my family. On October 9, 1999, I received a transplant. The first things I remember when waking up in recovery was my husband saying you are beautiful and PINK. My fingernails and lips had already turned pink.( I had been purple my whole life). I was up in just a couple of days. I still had 2 of 8 chest tubes, a paralyzed diaphragm and was in pain. But, I also had a new heart and two new lungs, and could breathe again.
I’m realizing how special life is and it should not be taken for granted I am extremely grateful to the Donor family who in their grief made the decision to give the incredible gift of life to someone like me, and I strive to take care of the gift I’ve been given. I pray God will bring peace and strength to their families.