With Humble Gratitude

Katherine Bauer

Transplant Recipient, Minnesota

  • Heart, June 8, 2015, Abbott Northwestern Hospital

May 13, 2014 at 6:55 PM I was healthy. (Doctors would later say that they could have subjected me to all known cardiac tests the day before and I would have passed with flying colors.) At 7:00 PM, friends were calling an ambulance.

Unbeknownst to me, some of my arteries were affected by a genetic condition which caused a spontaneous coronary arterial dissection (SCAD) within the artery feeding my heart oxygen. The result was a list of complications too numerous to list here but that include ECMO, coma, the brainwaves of a drunken tree frog, heart pump, toes amputated, thyroid cancer surgery, removal of an adrenal gland, brain bleed, heart transplant, spleen bleed, etc…). Twice I’d have to rehab in order to walk, do stairs, get independent.

My heart was supported by an LVAD for the first year after my heart attack. It was almost exactly 1 year from the LVAD install when they called me in to receive my heart. Receiving that phone call is very surreal. An LVAD is intended to be a “bridge” device and not the long term solution. I had recovered to the point of working part-time and golfing with buddies — even though doctors restricted me to my 8 iron or less : ). Getting that phone call about the transplant meant starting my recovery all over again but ultimately getting the chance to recover more fully.

Through out most of my adult life I donated blood and have been signed up as an organ donor because of my upbringing. It seemed an arbitrary thing – after all, the life you save isn’t sitting next to you. But as the recipient of a heart, the significance of that choice becomes much more real. I have the greatest sympathy and gratitude to the donor’s family for making this choice.

In gratitude to the donor's family and all that helped me recover, Kat