Lesson Learned From a New Heart
Listening to the heartbeat of an unborn child is one of the most thrilling experiences of life. It is one of the first connections that a mother makes with her child. The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. As adults, our heart beats sixty to one hundred times a minute. Too often spend our lives not noticing the importance that our heart plays in our daily routine, until tragedy strikes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Until recent years, I never placed much worry into my hearts health. Like many, I had the false assumption that I was young and did not need to worry because heart disease could not happen to me. However, this illusion was shattered when two people close to me had some very alarming encounters concerning their heart health. Our heart is the most vital organ we have. When it beats for the last time we will also take our last breath. Heart disease is very real, and here is how I discovered its importance in my life.
Every moment we have with our parents is a precious one. They are two people whom we have for a short time, but will remember and love for a lifetime. As a young girl in middle school I was afraid that time with my father would be stolen from me. He had always seemed healthy to me.
Unfortunately, heart disease is not a rare occurrence in his family. My father had to undergo an open heart surgery. Although doctors are very capable of performing the surgery, there is still risk. I sat in the hospital with my mother and sisters for what seemed to be years, waiting for him to come out of surgery. The surgery was a success, however a lower chamber in his heart is now considered to be dead. It cannot be fixed. Since then my dad has made a few changes to his lifestyle and has improved his health. However, the fear is still there. His heart is not as strong as it should be and he has other health conditions. After this experience with my father I had come to the conclusion that When I was older I would have to take extra good care of my heart and stay healthy. I still did not realize that the way I care for my heart now will determines its future health. I was young; my heart could not get sick right?
At the age of twenty-two, it looked as if a close friend would not live to see her twenty- third birthday. It was even harder to accept that her son may not have a mom one day. Carla had always seemed so perfect to me. Being younger I always looked up to her. She was the most caring person I knew, and always beautiful no matter what day of the week. I never would have believed that she would spend two years of her young life so close to death. Carla was pregnant with her oldest son Blake; we were all excited and could not wait for the baby to arrive. Carla began struggle from effects of her failing heart during her pregnancy. She was admitted to UK hospital at twenty-nine weeks because of shortness of breath and a racing heart. As the doctors tried to fix her condition they also kept a close eye on her unborn child. With concern for the baby, the doctors decided to perform an emergency delivery. Blake only weighed three pounds at birth. He spent many weeks in Kentucky Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal ICU. Meanwhile, Carla was recovering enough to go home with her son. We had all hoped that Carla would get better; I remember seeing how sad and scared her family was when condition grew worse. It was heart breaking. She had two heart valves replaced. It helped but before long her heart could not keep up with her thriving two year old son. She was admitted to the hospital again because her heart was barley functioning. Carla agreed to have a heart transplant.
While waiting she had to remain flat on her back in the ICU. The situation seemed hopeless when finally; a generous family donated the heart of a loved one. The transplant was a success! I have often heard her family speak of how overwhelming it was to watch her new heart beat in Carla’s chest for the first time. She is a miracle. She and Blake are both in good health to this day. This past year they welcomed a new member to the family and Blake became a big brother. There is not a day that goes by that we are not thankful for Carla and Blake and they great doctors that they had.
After almost losing my dear friend I realized that Heart disease can happen to anyone and that it preys on individuals of every age. When I received my license I became an organ donor because I now understood its importance. I knew that the condition of my young heart would determine the health of my heart when I grew old. I began to eat healthier and exercise. It was not long before I not only looked better but actually felt better physically. As I became stronger my heart did as well.
Our parents hear our heart beats before they ever hold us, or our mother feels our first kick. The heart pumps blood carrying oxygen to every fiber of our bodies. The heart is life. We cannot afford to spend our lives not being concerned with our heart health. Young or old, we need our hearts to survive. Taking care of your heart is not extremely difficult. One must simply begin to live a healthy lifestyle. I have seen its importance in my life and community. Begin now; guarantee yourself a healthy, happy future.
Bianco, Carl. “How Your Heart Works” 01 April 2000. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/heart.htm> 17 December 2012