A Sign of the Heart
Before my heart transplant, I was drawn to a special boy who appeared to me in a dream. Was he the donor who would save my life?
BY: Jan Jimenez
In 1999 I was admitted to a local hospital in Connecticut with symptoms including choking and water retention. One day right before breakfast, a doctor walked in and told me that I would not be leaving the hospital without a new heart. This came as a huge shock to me, since the day before the doctors were talking about sending me home. The diagnosis: I was suffering from congestive heart failure with a viral infection that attacked my heart and caused it to become enlarged--a condition called cardiomyopathy. Without a new heart, I would die.
That very same day, I did leave the hospital--only to be sent to one that specialized in heart transplants. As I rode in the ambulance, with the sirens screeching, my husband followed the ambulance in his car.
There I received a portable device with an IV built in that pumped medication into my heart. This would help my heart function until a suitable heart donor could be found. I went home with the device and used it for about eight and a half months--until I got so sick that I was put on a respirator. My kidneys were starting to fail. I needed a new heart soon, or I knew I wasn't going to make it. To top it off, I have a rare blood type, O negative-so it was hard to find an exact match quickly.
While awaiting my new heart, I had a dream: a neatly dressed young boy with short, dark hair and a handsome face, came to my hospital bed and said, "I want you to have my heart." As he said this, he picked up my hand and kissed it gently. I asked him why he wanted me to have his heart. He said, "Because you are special. You deserve it."
I told my husband about my dream first thing in the morning. I knew that a heart would be coming my way. Three weeks later, my doctor told me a donor had been found. My new heart would come from a 15-year-old boy from Vermont. That's all I knew. I had the transplant, and all went reasonably well.
A few years later, my husband and I decided to go on a short trip. I didn't want to go too far away in case I became ill. I was interested in going to Vermont to see what it was like, since that was where my donor had grown up. Although I didn't know what town he was from, I was drawn to a place called Rutland. I had a feeling my donor had lived there and I wanted to see what it looked like. I noticed on the map, Rutland was called the "Heart of Vermont." That settled it--we were going there. As we arrived in Rutland, we were amazed to see a giant rainbow in the sky. I knew this was a sign that this was where my heart donor had lived.