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Violet Brabham

Heart Transplant - 10/2007

I never suspected that my heart was bad and I had never known of anyone who had had a heart transplant but I was about to find out about transplants and more.

In 1998 I was beginning to notice that I was out of breath walking up the stairs at work. I took the stairs instead of the elevator because I worked such long hours that I didn’t have time to exercise then one night as I was driving home, I felt a sharp pain in my chest and sweat began to come down my face.

I turned the air conditioning vents on my face and continued to drive home. I crawled into my house and just laid on the floor. I soon felt better and thought I would see a doctor “tomorrow”.
After several weeks I went to see a doctor and it took me 3 trips to convince him something was wrong. He kept telling me I was fine even after x-rays and EKGs. Finally, I saw a cardiologist and he told me I had a year to live unless I received a new heart. WOW!

I started researching online and found most of the information was old. I started going to the Medical Center, St. Luke’s because they had all the research, experience and new technology that most hospitals just do not have. As time passed, I had a TIA and then a defibrillator, pacemaker inserted in my chest. It was 10 years before I actually needed the transplant.

I didn’t do very much during those 10 years because I was out of breath just walking 10 steps, or talking on the phone. I could not stand on my feet to cook and my hands were too tired to stir. I even had trouble holding the hair dryer to dry my hair. My dog was home with me every day and became more than just a dog but my companion. My Schatzi was out in the front yard and another dog came by and killed her. I was heartbroken and grieving every day. Then 3 months later, I was staying busy by getting our house ready for my nephew’s wedding on October 6. I wanted to do my share of the work so I would sit and paint the bottom half of the wall and my husband would paint the top half (or more). I looked up at my husband and told him I needed to go to the hospital, I didn’t even protest when he put me in the wheel chair – I knew.

The night I went into the hospital was August 29 and I received my heart on September 27, 2007 after several tests and being on a balloon pump for 2 weeks. My nephew called me several times on the day of his wedding and when they were toasting the bride and groom they also said a little prayer for me, thankful that I received a heart and my donor and his family for their loss. I didn’t get to see the wedding in person like I had planned, but I celebrated by video with joyful tears.


...The Heart Exchange visited me and my family and inspired us knowing they had made it and were living their lives as healthy active people. They shared their experiences with me and I took comfort in their stories. They gave me hope that I could do it too! I not only received hope, I received lasting friendships.

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