Becky – Heart Recipient

becky-mintz-lgBecky always thought of herself as an ordinary healthy wife and mother. That is, until the day she suffered a massive heart attack caused by two separate blood clots. She remembers the fear and worry etched on the faces of her husband and teenaged daughter as she woke up in the hospital to learn a pump implanted in her stomach was all that was keeping her alive. Her life had changed forever.

Becky spent the following few months in and out of the hospital, learning to adapt to life with an LVAD, or Left Ventricular Assist Device. Becky’s doctor explained that her damaged heart would need to be replaced with a healthy one, and she was eventually placed on the National Waiting List for Organ Transplantation. She could have waited months, even years for a heart that may have never come. But as fate would have it, only 11 days would pass before a heart became available for Becky.

Here is Becky’s story about meeting her organ donor’s family, in her own words.

I felt both nervous and excited about meeting my donor family. I was worried they may be disappointed in who received their loved one’s heart. At the same time, I was eager to finally learn more about the person whose heart now beats inside of me. It was October 16, 2010, just one week before the two-year anniversary of my heart transplant and just two weeks after I first learned I had been given the heart of a young 18-year-old man.

I did not know what to expect as I walked in to the Organ Procurement Organization One Legacy in Los Angeles. My first instinct was to embrace the mother of my donor as I introduced myself. I then made my way around the room hugging all 13 of the family members who had gathered for this special occasion. The eldest son began to show me pictures of his brother, my donor. His name was Eddie.

The family shared several wonderful stories with us about Eddie and what type of person he was. He was a thoughtful young man who worked and attended school. He was full of life and enjoyed doing adventurous things, like playing paintball war games, driving fast cars, and riding dirt bikes. I learned that Eddie died in a dirt bike accident, doing something that he loved. Through tears, Eddie’s mother and other family members took turns listening to my heart through a stethoscope, knowing that same heart once beat inside someone they loved dearly.

In a twist of fate, Eddie had only made the decision to be an organ donor known to his family just a few weeks prior to his accident after attending the funeral of another family member. He told his family that if anything were to ever happen to him, they should donate his organs so that someone else can live.

Though he had not officially registered to be an organ donor yet, his expressed wishes were honored by his family at the time of his death. It was an amazing experience to meet my donor family and learn about Eddie. We have now become friends. On April 30, 2011, I walked proudly in the Donate Life Run/Walk in honor of my heart donor, Eddie.

As an Ambassador with the Nevada Donor Network, I volunteer to visit local high schools and talk to the students about the importance of organ and tissue donation. I find sharing Eddie’s story with them helps illustrate the importance of sharing their own wishes and thoughts about being an organ donor with their families.