Shawn’s Story

Shawn was first diagnosed with heart failure at age 30 while three months pregnant with her daughter Hannah. She had been experiencing shortness of breath and difficulty walking from her bedroom to the bathroom. She was hospitalized for about three weeks, and doctors were able to stabilize her with medication. Shawn started seeing a specialist since it was a high-risk pregnancy and went on to have a healthy delivery.

A year later, however, Shawn began experiencing the same symptoms, as well as swelling in her legs and feet. She was admitted to the hospital again, and this time, doctors told her there was a strong possibility that she would need a heart transplant.

“I was pretty much in denial for quite some time,” said Shawn. “I thought, hey, if that’s what I have to do, I’ll go see the specialist, but I don’t need a transplant. I was 31 years old with a one-year-old baby… I thought there’s just no way I can go through this.”

Shawn was transferred to Texas Heart Institute, where her cardiologist told her, “You’re young. You feel good. You have a daughter. Let’s put this transplant off as long as possible.”

Shawn was able to delay the transplant for the next seven years, but in February 2011, she came down with a virus that she couldn’t shake and ended up back in the hospital.

“My cardiologist told me we had gotten all the miles we could out of my heart and that they were going to start working me up for a transplant,” said Shawn. “It was beyond my ability to grasp. You hear about heart transplants, but you never really think it’s going to happen to you. They got me on the transplant list, but I got sicker and sicker as I waited. Every night we prayed for a heart to come and it just never did.”