Stories from the heart: Heart Month 2018
February is Heart Month and we're sharing stories of those who have received one of
the most precious gifts—the gift of life.
They have all had a second chance at life. In celebration of Heart
Month, we're highlighting the stories of heart transplant recipients
and their families. Here are some of those stories: organ donation
I was diagnosed with dilated
cardiomyopathy (also known
as an enlarged heart) at age
38. As my health worsened, an
defibrillator (ICD) was
installed, which allowed me to
live a normal life for a number
of years like that.
Then in 2011, I went into
cardiac arrest, which caused
my kidneys to fail. I had an LVAD installed and was put on
dialysis. I spent about a year
with my LVAD and receiving
dialysis treatments until in
June 2013, I receive a double
transplant: a new heart and
Over four years later, I’m well. I walk every day, do some gardening,
hunting, fishing, and spend time with my family. All the things I do
now are because of a family that in their time of loss, donated their
loved ones organs to a complete stranger and for that I am very
Antonella Ciliberto Mazzocchio
I was diagnosed with Lupus
when I was 19 years old. But
it was after giving birth to
my daughter in 1992 and
suffering from a heart
attack, that I first began
experiencing troubles with
my heart. For 24 years
following, I struggled with a
sick heart—damaged and
growing larger and larger as
the years went on.
Finally in 2013, my heart
finally couldn’t take it
anymore and I once again, went into cardiac arrest. I was
transferred to the hospital where I was told that my heart was
only functioning at 15 percent and that I would need a transplant.
Eight months later, I got a new heart.
My story is proof that miracles do happen. Thank you to all of the
people who gave me a second chance at life—from the first
responders who were there to assist me at the time of need, to my
cardiologist, heart transplant team, and all the wonderful nurses
who take care of me. And of course, thank you to my donor and my
donor family. I would not be here today if it weren't for you.
Ron (recipient) and Susan Wakefield
Ron was diagnosed with
congestive heart failure,
caused by the valve on
right side not functioning
correctly. Unfortunately, a
simple valve operation was
not possible. He continued
to deteriorate and then he
was recommended to have
a transplant as the only
After years of trying all
sorts of different solutions,
we reached a point where
no more could be done. His heart continued to deteriorate. In 2016,
it was recommended that the only solution for Ron would be a heart
transplant—but due to his size and blood type, it was hard to find a
suitable match. And while he waited for a new heart, he continued
to struggle. Finally, in June 2017, Ron got his new heart.
We’re so thankful to the many miracles we received during this time
and from people we least expected. We never felt alone. We’re so
very grateful to the many doctors and nurses at hospital who
assisted with this life changing event. Everyone was very
professional, compassionate, and expert.
Ron and I cannot express enough our gratitude to the donor's
family. Simply put, Ron probably would not be here without the
special heart he received.
I was diagnosed with
congenital heart disease in
2009, which affected the left
ventricle of my heart. This
meant that my heart was
enlarged and my health waned.
After running the gamut of
medications, procedures, and
therapies, my heart team at St.
Paul’s decided in September
2016 to put me on the list for a
It was a relief of sorts although
there could be many setbacks. I
was Glad that something could
be done after the years of weakness, shortness of
breath and anxiety. I was ready for whatever happened.
Just one short week later, a heart became available. I knew I was
blessed by a short wait for my donor heart. I had my surgery early
October 2016 and since then, recovery has been great. I’ve been
active outdoors getting in lots of hiking, skateboarding and walking.
I also met a great woman and am engaged to be married.
Words cannot convey the joy and gratitude I have to God, my donor
and donor family, plus my excellent heart team for everything that
has been done.
Every time I push my skateboard around a park or take a flight of stairs and not get winded, I think of my donor and their family. I appreciate the gift I have received by the love of a stranger. It pushes me forward every day to appreciate my second opportunity at living a fruitful life.
Have a story to share?
Want to thank a special living donor in your life? Share your story with us on social media using the hashtag #BCTransplant or share your story on our website.