Community Stories


August 14, 2020
nicole brown

Your heart, an essential organ in your body, works hard to keep you alive. But what happens when it stops working? As Nicole describes, life turns upside down and the hope for a heart transplant sets in quickly.

Nicole’s journey started in the summer of 2012 when she noticed she was rapidly losing weight, felt incredibly fatigued, and was unable to get warm. She saw several doctors who performed a variety of tests to figure out what was happening. “I ended up having a stomach virus, but I remember the nurse saying that wasn’t the cause of my problems,” she went on to say, “that was when I knew something crazy was happening, but I didn’t know what exactly was going on.”

For the remainder of the summer, Nicole tried different things, like taking iron supplements, to find a solution to her health problems. While some of these things helped temporarily, she still didn’t have any answers or solutions.

Then, in September 2012, Nicole found herself at urgent care. Results of an echo were alarming and she was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Confusion and fear overtook Nicole when the doctors said her heart valve had ruptured and was spilling blood throughout her body. Her heart required two ventricular assist devices to keep both sides pumping. To make matters seem worse, these machines required both good and bad cells to operate, so Nicole needed numerous blood transfusions to survive.

Nicole started receiving routine blood transfusions as part of her ongoing medical care. “It became a regular course of action, a cycle, in order to survive,” she explained. For Nicole, blood transfusions were essential to live. While doctors tried multiple surgeries to save both valves of the heart, they didn’t work. A whole heart transplant became crucial to save her life.

Nicole received her transplant in February 2013 and since then, she has been living life to its fullest. She’s battled complications as a result of the heart transplant but shares her gratitude to blood donors who helped keep her alive. “We need blood donors. Blood transfusions help people feel normal and have the energy to do simple things and make vital memories.”

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