On October 13th, 2016, early in the morning, I awoke with a sharp pain in my chest. Unable to fall back asleep, I headed to the nearest store to pick up some medicine that would make me feel better. With a recent diagnosis of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, I assumed my pain was associated with a bad case of heartburn. As the day progressed my symptoms got worse but, I did my best to continue with my day. This was an important day, I had a job interview and couldn’t be delayed with going to see the doctor. By the end of the day I was still in pain, and that’s when my girlfriend urged me to go to the ER.
As I sat in the waiting area, the pain became unbearable. I called the nurse and was immediately taken for an EKG. The cardiologist rushed in to read the results, he confirmed I was having a heart attack. How could this be? I was 20 years old, athletic and healthy. The news shocked me. After further testing I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and my prognosis was good, only a three-month recovery period.
Unfortunately, my recovery did not go as planned and around Christmas time I was admitted to Ochsner Hospital for a heart assistance device and transplant evaluation. During my hospital stay my condition worsened and on January 9th, I had emergency surgery for heart balloon. The following day, I underwent LVAD surgery. My parents and the doctors hoped this would afford me more time as I was placed on the transplant list and waited for a match. On January 12th the surgeons approached my family with incredible news, there was a heart available and it was in transport.
My life was saved in a matter of days and as I awoke on January 15th, I will never forget the overwhelming emotion that overcame me when my father told me I had received a heart. I was so grateful to be alive. Still drowsy from the surgery, all I could comprehend was that someone, somewhere had saved my life, it was a miracle. During my first semester at the University of Louisiana, I would have never guessed that by age 20, I would need a heart and that an angel would come along to save me. As I look back at these past 6 months, I’m honored to know who my donor is, and to have a very good relationship with her father that I cherish forever and will hold on to… I LOVE YOU ABIGAIL CONNER!