Hi! My name is Austin and I’m 15 years old and 7 years post transplant.
When I was 8, I got really sick. Mom and Dad and even the doctors thought that it was the flu at first but after I had more testing done, the doctors told us that I was in congestive heart failure – the official name was idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy which meant that my heart was enlarged and weak and it had an unknown cause. We were all very scared and didn’t know what this meant for my future.
I was put into the Cardiac Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where I was watched very closely and put on lots of medications. After five days, we were told that my heart was just too weak to continue beating on its own and I would need help from an LVAD which is a pump that helped circulate my blood to the rest of my body. We were also told that I was going to need a heart transplant and the LVAD was what would help to keep me alive until there was a heart for me.
About a month later, I had a stroke from clots that had formed in the LVAD but the doctors caught it right away and I was able to get a procedure done so that the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I was still very sick but I did my best to keep a good attitude and continued to fight while I waited for the perfect heart.
About two weeks later, that day came! I was nervous but also grateful, excited and hopeful for my new beginning. My heart transplant went well and 11 days later, I was on my way home! I still have some mild challenges from the stroke, but have not otherwise slowed down since. I truly love life!
My mom and dad have been honest with me and we have talked about how a heart transplant is not a cure, but a treatment. We have also talked about all of the research going on in transplantation and how scientists are working towards one transplant for life though. We believe that we may actually see a day that a transplant is a cure and that is great because I have so much planned for my life! 😊
From the bottom of my new heart, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for helping to support this important research. You truly make a difference.