Student gets her second heart transplant and looks forward to returning to WSU
WSU junior Rachel Doseck recently had her second heart transplant and has been in recovery for a month.
Doseck had her first transplant at the age of 10, and for about nine years, she lived a normal life. She started having symptoms of nausea and low blood pressure for over a year causing doctors to believe she was experiencing stomach issues.
While in the ER, her heart was functioning at 20 percent.Her body had likely rejected the antigen (donor heart from her previous transplant) so the immune system started attacking her heart and small vessels in it were collapsing.
“Doctors told me they never had a patient come in with this problem alive,” Doseck said. “If I wouldn’t have had the transplant I would have been on life support. There was an artificial balloon pump that helped to keep my heart going.”
According to Doseck, during her first transplant, doctors told her that she’d face a second one soon since the average transplant lives five to ten years. The process to obtain a transplant first includes the doctors discussing the patient’s status, which depends on the length patients have to live and other medical issues. After that they are put on a national wait list and matched with donors. Doseck was on the list for nine days.
According to Doseck, the first transplant was at a children’s hospital where a lot of information was sugarcoated. According to Doseck, at Cleveland Clinic, where she’s located now, doctors were very honest.
“[The doctors] knew I was dying,” Doseck said. “It was to a point they’d take any heart even if it wasn’t a heart that matched, even if it was a 60 year old. At that point I knew I was done and there were no other options. I decided to leave it up to God, because even if I got the transplant another 18 or so people would die who didn’t get it.”
“The second time around was very difficult because I was working and studying at Wright State,” Doseck said. “I was also a lot sicker, had a feeding tube and ready to go on life support. What has helped me is being involved with Catholic Ministries on campus and family and friend supports helping me get through on a daily basis.”
Doseck plans upon recovery to go home from Cleveland, attend cardiac rehab to get back into shape, hang out with friends, come to WSU in the fall and go back to a normal life.
“This really flipped my world upside down and made it that much harder, but I did it before with the first transplant so I can do it again,” Doseck said. “I urge others to become a donor because without one, I won’t be able to receive a transplant.”
According to Life Connection of Ohio, a nonprofit agency designed by the federal government as the Organ Procurement Organization for Northwest and West Central Ohio, the organ shortage grows at a staggering rate of about every 10 minutes another person is added to the National Transplant Waitlist. In 2011, LCO coordinated the recovery of organs from 46 donors providing 149 life-saving transplants and more than 1,000,000 people benefit from tissue transplants each year. A single donor can provide organ and tissues for more than 50 people in need; 18 men, women, and children will die each day waiting for a transplant.
“My advice for anyone going through something similar would be I know it’s hard at times but surround yourself with people that love you and that will help you and be there for you,” Doseck said. “Eventually it gets better and life will go on.”