Sara received a heart at age five weeks at Loma Linda University Medical Center. She was the 85th baby under six months of age to receive a heart transplant. This is her story in her words:
My mom was seven months pregnant with me when doctors detected that my heart rate was only 60, instead of the normal 120. Weekly ultrasounds were necessary to keep an eye on me, and Mom and Dad were told that I might require open-heart surgery at the time of my birth. Well, in December of 1990, I was born, a whole 4 lbs, 14 oz, and as sick as I can be. I was taken away immediately and put on a respirator. The next few days I was put through many tests, and when I was five days old, Mom and Dad were given the bad news. I had severe congenital heart disease.
What should have been a joyful time turned into a major nightmare. I was going downhill and needed to have a pacemaker implanted right away to increase my heart rate. The pacemaker wasn’t the answer, but it would buy me time while my doctors and my mom and dad made a decision. My heart was so bad that my days were numbered. There were only three options for my parents. One was to take me home and let nature take it course (home to die). Another was open-heart surgery, but the chances weren’t very good. The third option was a life-saving heart transplant.
Lots of people die while waiting for an organ. I think everyone should consider being an organ donor. I thank God for that little baby that saved my life, and for the family who gave so selflessly in their time of grief. Because of them, and God’s grace, I am a twelve-year-old girl in the seventh grade who is adjusting to life just fine. I have never rejected my new heart. I take lots of medication, have lots of doctor visits, and still have my pacemaker—which, by the way, my own heart overrides. I’ve been bowling for several years now and recently participated in the 2003 World Transplant Games in Nancy, France. So you see, there is life after transplant.
Help me by helping others get a second chance at life. Become an organ donor by signing up at: donateLIFEcalifornia.org.