The Gift of Life

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Seven years ago, Melodie and her husband Ziggy moved from Michigan to Deland, Florida. Ziggy retired from ADT security systems after a forty-five-year career and Melodie retired from being a caregiver.

Shortly after moving to Florida, Melodie received a successful surgery for a double knee replacement. But just six months later, she knew something wasn’t right. Melodie woke up in the middle of the night out of breath and dizzy with her heart beating uncontrollably fast.

The next morning, her doctor urged her to go straight to the hospital. Once she arrived, Melodie was immediately rushed back into surgery and received four stints in her heart.

After surgery and a very bad infection, Melodie’s heart health continued to deteriorate. She was completely shocked to learn only 20 percent of her heart was working. However, the most shocking part of that day in the doctor’s office was hearing the words, ‘I think it’s time for a heart transplant.’

Hearing the words ‘heart transplant’ took her a while to absorb, but there was little time to waste. Doctors began running numerous tests to make sure she was a good candidate for a transplant to be added to the official transplant list.

Throughout this process, Melodie was able to stay positive by volunteering at OurLegacy, a federally designated organ and tissue donation program dedicated to saving lives. Despite her poor health, Melodie continued to be an advocate for organ donation and shared,

“I wanted to get the word out. People don’t always think about signing up to be an organ donor on their own. It starts with the young people and in schools, and it’s important to educate others to know that it’s a positive thing.”

After over two and a half years of waiting for a heart on the transplant list, Melodie received a call early in the morning saying, ‘We have a heart and you are a perfect match.’

Then everything happened fast. Melodie was admitted to the hospital and became the 230th patient to receive a heart transplant at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute. Just three days later, Melodie’s body went into full rejection and doctors had to move her to the ICU. Her road to recovery was long and exhausting, both mentally and physically. However, Melodie was determined to get strong again; at just 65 years old, this new heart gave her a second chance at life.

Post-transplant, Melodie hasn’t gone a day without thinking about her donor. Last December, she wrote a letter to her donor’s family:

“Today and always, I will honor your loved one’s selfless gift by sharing my story with as many people as I possibly can. My deepest heart filled gratitude for caring people like you, who have allowed me to look forward to new tomorrows.”

Melodie continues to raise awareness through her personal organ donation story. If you want to join Melodie in raising awareness about the importance of organ donation, make a generous gift or sign up for Central Florida’s annual organ and tissue donation awareness event, GR8 to DON8 8K/5K. To learn more about the AdventHealth Transplant Institute, click here.

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