A swollen leg brought Susan Wilson, 60, to the emergency room at AdventHealth Winter Park, formerly Winter Park Memorial Hospital. Ten days later, she left with a diagnosis she never imagined — congestive heart failure.

“When they told me I had heart failure, I was scared to death. When I left the hospital, I really didn’t know what to do next. I couldn’t afford to see a cardiologist, so they referred me to the Heart Care Center.”

The AdventHealth nurse practitioners at the Trina Hidalgo Heart Care Center helped Wilson understand her new diagnosis, and assisted her in getting the medications she needed to keep her health stabilized.

“They showed me how to write to the drug companies and ask for my medication for free,” said Wilson. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive.”

But Wilson’s care didn’t end there. While her heart condition was somewhat stable, it wasn’t improving. Her nurse practitioners referred her back to the AdventHealth Transplant Institute to be evaluated for a heart transplant. When she became a heart transplant candidate, AdventHealth helped Wilson apply for Medicaid to help cover a portion of the cost of the procedure and follow-up care.

“I wasn’t able to work because of my condition and my husband is self-employed,” Wilson said. “We couldn’t even afford the medications, never mind the medical care. I have been so blessed by the care these professionals provided.”

Now Wilson spends her days mentoring and paying it forward to other transplant patients who are going through the ups and downs of organ transplantation. But her true joy is playing and caring for her young granddaughter, Alyssa.

“I went through all this in hopes of meeting my first grandchild,” says Wilson. “She is pure joy in my life and makes it worth living.”