Sue Dely

Unlike many transplant recipients, I had no idea that I was even sick. Then on November 14, 1997, at age 40, my life unexpectedly changed forever.
I had been experiencing chest pains and other symptoms for several hours and eventually went to the emergency room, where I was informed that I had suffered a heart attack. My condition deteriorated rapidly and my prognosis was grim. Only 5% of my heart was still functioning and life support was barely keeping me alive. I flatlined three times and the doctors prepared my husband and family for my almost certain death. Even if I were to survive, the sustained lack of oxygen to my organs would likely leave me in a greatly impaired state.
Fortunately, Stanford Medical Center accepted me for a possible heart transplant. In order to keep me alive while awaiting a donor heart, a LVAD (mechanical heart) was surgically implanted, which had never been successful up to that point. Several other complications arose, including a blood clot in my leg that nearly resulted in an amputation. But again, I beat the odds and managed to survive.
When I finally became lucid enough, my husband, who had been at my side continuously, explained what life-saving procedures had already been performed and that I needed a donor heart. Because I was uninformed about transplantation, I asked  why  I just wasn’t given a new heart to begin with. That’s when I initially became aware of the shortage of organ donors.
Then miraculously on November 30, just 16 days after my heart attack, a donor heart became available. Because of my critical condition, I was #1 in the country to receive a heart. Despite more complications during and after the transplant, the procedure was successful. In fact, the staff at the hospital dubbed me “the Miracle Girl”. After eight surgeries and four months of intensive monitoring and rehab, I finally returned home to Reno. It’s been four years since I received my new heart, and despite minor complications, my progress has been excellent.
The support of my husband and loved ones has been a crucial factor in my recovery. I also believe my strong faith in God and His direct answer to everyone’s prayers are the reasons I’m here today to tell my story. All those who were involved in my ordeal were inspired by the miracle they witnessed. I’m thankful for each extra day God has given me and I realize there is still a greater purpose in my life to fulfill.

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