Organ Donation - @recoverymads

"Hi, my name is Madeline and I’m 20 years old from Maryland. I was born with a rare and complex  congenital heart defect called hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. In the first year of my life, my body had gone through three open heart surgeries, a Nissen fundoplication, an episode of cardiac arrest, and a lot of time spent in the hospital NICU. Afterwards, I was living my best life with half a functioning heart, but everything changed in 2016 when I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and would need a transplant. Eight months later, I was officially on the waitlist. I received a brand new ticker on June 21st, 2017! The heart was perfect, but in less than 24 hours, my blood pressure had plummeted, my heart rate dropped, and I was showing signs of sepsis with right side heart failure. The doctors put me in a medically induced coma for five days while I was hooked up to an ECMO machine. I am here today because of a selfless decision a family made to turn a tragedy into the gift of life for a complete stranger. Everyday I am thankful for my second chance in addition to the extraordinary measures that have been taken over the past two decades so I could survive. Often times though, it is difficult to acknowledge that I also face survivor’s guilt and medical PTSD from some terrifying situations. I don’t want to show anything but my appreciation for how fortunate I’ve been, but the past 28 months have taught me that I’m allowed to be both incredibly grateful and openly struggle with the aftermath of everything that I’ve been through. My 20 years here have been a whirlwind of complexity and recovering is always going to be a lifelong journey. My mental health will never minimize the overwhelming amount of love and honor I have for my donor. These two necklaces represent the gift of organ donation and the very real impact of post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s important to recognize that both can coexist and often do. A blessing does not erase pain and pain does not erase a blessing!" @recoverymads

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