Gabby Preap

Social Butterfly’s “Big Heart” Allowed Valentine’s Day Celebration

Twenty-three-year-old heart transplant recipient, Gabby Preap, celebrated Valentine’s day with her donor family, Michelle, Dave and Brittany Campbell, by visiting healthcare providers who helped make the donation possible.

Nineteen-year-old Cassie Campbell became an organ donor, on April 18, 2011, following an accidental overdose of prescribed medications. Because she had checked “yes” for organ donation at the DMV just one year prior, she was able to save five lives, including her heart recipient, Gabby.

“Cassie’s big heart continues to connect lives,” says her father, Dave Campbell. “It’s fitting — as Cassie was a popular social butterfly.”

Heart recipient, Gaby Preap, notes her life is much brighter than it was in 2008. That’s when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy after a virus attacked her heart. At 19 years old, she was dying of heart failure and given two years to live.

“I felt like I had a ticking time bomb,” remembers Gabby. “I had chest pains, I was short of breath, I lost my appetite and when I would lie down, I would start to choke.”

After two and a half years of waiting — when everyday was a gift, Gabby finally received the call that a 19 year-old donor had been found. Gabby’s life was saved.

“I felt like I was reborn,” says Gabby. “It was a new start for me — like I was never sick.”

The story of Cassie’s giving heart garnered national attention when the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), featured the Campbell family meeting Gabby on its Lost and Found series. Cassie’s gift of life so inspired one Oprah producer, Angela Heller, that she became a registered donor. She urged all of her friends, through her Facebook page, to do the same. Eight months after the filming, Angela died unexpectedly. Like Cassie, her gift saved and enhanced many lives.