When I was younger, I never really thought about how I would die. As I became a teenager and then into my 20’s, I was invincible and did not think I would die. When I was 32, I in fact did die.
No 32-year-old healthy person without a family history of illness thinks they will suffer a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). That’s what I thought until the dreaded night in October. On October 22, 2011 my perspective changed forever. When a person suffers from a SCA, the chances of surviving are slim. A person must receive help within 10 minutes or permanent damage can occur, and most likely will die. I was one of the very fortunate ones that survived. Had I been anywhere else that night, I could easily have become a statistic. Instead, I am humbled to be a survivor. The road to recovery was long, but, well worth it.
My health had failed me, but with the great technology of today’s time I was able to have a Left Ventricular Assistive Device (LVAD) placed. This device kept me alive and would sustain me, but not heal me. Along the way, I learned that if I wanted to try to resume a “normal” life, I needed a heart transplant. The surgeon would take my old heart out and give me a new one. Sounds like a simple and obvious decision, but really it was the hardest decision I have EVER had to make.
I needed a new heart, but that meant that someone would have to die for me to get another chance at life. All I could think about was the family. How would they be able to give such a great gift at a time when they are grieving and trying to figure out how to say goodbye to their loved one? It was hard, but with prayer, guidance and education I was finally able to find peace in knowing that yes, someone would die, but in their death they were giving the greatest gift anyone could give…LIFE! With a heart transplant, I would be able to live a new life. I would be able to raise my two beautiful children together with my loving husband. And, I would be able to be here today to ask you to be an organ donor.
On Thursday, April 2 I was part of our flag raising ceremony at Tri-County Health Care in honor of organ, eye and tissue donors. It was such a privilege and honor to share my story that morning. I hope my story reminds everyone that we all have that ability to help others. I invite you to check the box and let your intentions be known. You can check the box knowing that at a time when you are no longer able to be here on this earth, someone else can have a chance to enjoy it a little longer. What a great gift!
For more information about organ, eye and tissue donation and how you can become a donor, go to DonateLife.net.
About the Author:
Stephanie Larson, RN, is the Tri-County Health Care Hospital Epic Optimizer. Her job includes managing the Electronic Medical Record for Tri-County. She has been an asset in this role for approximately seven months. Stephanie is also an RN and has been with the organization in a patient care capacity striving for excellent patient care since 2006. During her tenure, Stephanie has worked in many areas including surgery and as a med/surg nurse. Stephanie received her heart transplant on September 16, 2012 and has been an advocate for Donate Life, Go Red for Women and many other organizations since her Sudden Cardiac Arrest on October 22, 2011.