The impact of philanthropy has a ripple effect, changing people’s lives in unanticipated ways. This February, during American Heart Awareness Month when many organizations work to bring attention to the issues surrounding heart disease, it’s important to recognize the personal stories of healing made possible through philanthropy.
A college student studying marine biology was excitedly looking forward to her wedding. Then, one day she passed out during rowing team practice. After extensive testing, her doctors found that she had a major issue with her heart and needed a transplant.
While her doctors waited for a suitable donor heart, the patient was implanted with a small mechanical device that helped pump her blood through her body—and kept her alive. Due to this medical innovation, she was able to marry her fiancé, who refused to leave her side even when she offered to break off the engagement following her diagnosis.
The beauty of this story is that philanthropy made it possible. Researchers who developed the early stages of the mechanical device she received were supported by philanthropic dollars.
After the patient finally underwent a successful heart transplant, closing this chapter of her journey, she and her family looked for a way to give back. They found it—through sharing their story, by volunteering, and through their philanthropic dollars.
“It’s part of the healing,” said her cardiologist, “when you feel like something good comes out of your own tragedy and you’re able to ease the burden for someone else or someone else’s family.”
The patient, her husband, and the rest of her family continue to be deeply involved with the hospital where she received her primary care, raising awareness about heart transplants and supporting fundraising efforts. She also found another meaningful way to give back. She went back to school to become a nurse, creating yet another ripple that was initially created by those donors who philanthropically supported the research that preserved her life until she could receive her new heart.