Maribeth's Story

In a moment, my world completely was upended. A massive heart attack had resulted in doctors telling my family, "I was not out of the woods yet." And that they would need to find a long-term care facility for me to go live if I indeed even left the hospital alive.
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That was November 2010. My partner and I had just adopted two brothers, ages 5 and 6. I was 49 years old and was back in school preparing for my bachelor's degree. My biological son was stationed in Korea with the Navy and engaged to be married the following year. As I recovered over the next few months, I found that a heart transplant was the only long-term treatment for my failing heart.

In Nov 2015, I began evaluations to find out if I was a candidate for transplant. Once cleared head to toe, inside and out, I officially listed in April 2016. When my coordinator called, I was at the ER having another panic attack. Again, I had fluid around my heart and lungs, making me feel like I was suffocating. I was also wondering if it was the beginning of the end.

In July 2017, my new heart got transplanted.  The first few months were emotionally crazy. There was overwhelming joy, grief, thankfulness, punctuated by moments of sadness, humility, fear, and feelings of invincibility. Then my donor's mother reached out to me.

I found out that my donor, Sarah, and I had so much in common. Her family visited me, and I called them. I now have a whole other family. I can travel now without ending up in an ER along the way. I feel confident that I will now see my 15- and 16-year-olds graduate not only from high school but from college. My oldest son did marry a couple of years after my heart attack, and my grandson was born in Japan. He since then has a baby sister. Not only was I alive to get to meet them, but I believe I may get to see them in their adulthood.

My family and I are so grateful to Amy and Larry for allowing their daughter Sarah to share life with others. Without her gift 3 and 1/2 years ago, I likely would not be alive now. I would not trade my life or my choice for a transplant. Thank you, Sarah.