Saturday, April 6, 2013

Have a Heart

What did your Saturday look like today?

This morning we were juggling a CrossFit competition, soccer game and birthday party. I'm looking out the window at a mom pushing her kiddos in a double stroller, and another guy walking his dog. 

Abbye is in the hospital battling congestive heart failure, as she has been for 2 1/2 years, and is in desperate need of a heart this weekend. 

Sound like your Saturday? 

Not so much? 

An old old friend of mine that I first met 20 years ago at camp emailed me yesterday. Her younger sister, Abbye Irons, is in Houston at St. Luke's as you read this. She was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy in October 2010 - in other words, a virus attacked her heart, making it double the size of a normal heart and preventing it from operating at more than 10% - and has been fighting for her life ever since. After surgery and an LVAD implant, her heart was the size of a football, she was on 15 medications daily, an internal defibrillator and a battery pack that kept her heart beating. 

LVADs can cause blood clots, and in late October 2011, 4 months after the implant, Abbye suffered a stroke. She had lost her speech at the time but has done a miraculous job of regaining it. She was doing fairly well until January, when she began to retain fluid and experienced shortness of breath. After several echocardiograms {sonograms of her heart} the doctors determined on February 27th it was time for Abbye to be moved up on the transplant list to Level 2. 1B and 1A are the most critical. Her condition continues to worsen and she has been in the hospital since March 5th. 

Two weeks ago, she was moved to 1A. 

A tandem pump has been implanted that sits on the outside of her leg, and pumps blood to her heart through a large tube that enters her groin. This is a very temporary fix, and she has to remain extremely still, lying flat on her back without moving to prevent dislodging it. Yesterday, Abbye and her family received the bad news that the only other option is to implant another LVAD on Monday if she does not receive a heart this weekend. This is devastating; Abbye is at great risk for a stroke, and she would be bumped down on the list and sent home as she would not be eligible for a transplant for 6 months in order to allow her body time to heal from the surgery. The LVAD surgery is the most difficult heart procedure from which to recover, and the doctors are not convinced it will be successful this time. 

Did I mention Abbye is only 26? This beautiful young lady is her...


Abbye is the perfect criteria for a match: she's small in stature in weight, a common blood type, no antibodies, and no other organs are failing. In an 800 mile radius, which is a 4 hour flight time, there has not been a match for her. Why is this shocking? Not only is it National Organ Donation Awareness Month, she is at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston - the largest heart transplant program in the south -  and they have not done a transplant in an entire month. There are people all over our country, filling the rooms of her same hospital, fighting to live and desperate for that life-saving gift of organ donation. How's this for a statistic:

Only 10% - TEN PERCENT - of possible candidates are organ donors. That number is just too small for our country, a nation blessed with the technological, scientific, and financial means to provide transplants to those in need. We have the capacity to save lives...we just don't have the donors. 

Recently, laws have changed and it is not enough to simply sign up to be a donor when you renew your driver's license. You also must register in the national transplant registry, and, most importantly, tell your family you want to be a donor. The final decision rests with family members, and they can override a directive pertaining to transplants. 

Texas residents can visit and register today. It's free, takes 60 seconds {literally, I just did it}, and could save someone's life TOMORROW. It will also send an email to your family members dictating your wishes. For those of you who live outside of Texas, you can visit for more information on other states' organ donor registry programs. 

I asked Abbye's sister what she needs and wants most right now. She said:
"We'd like to ask one, that people register to be donors, and two, just for people's prayers." They have been overwhelmed by the amount of prayerful petition on behalf of Abbye, and it has made this terrible situation more bearable. 

I am going to add a bit to this incentive. If you will go register RIGHT NOW to be an organ donor, come back here and then post your name and email in the comment section, telling me you have registered {this will work on an honor system}, I will give EVERYONE that registers a $50 gift card to use on any piece my of clothing.

To learn more about Abbye's story, visit her CaringBridge website here: 

Abbye's family has had these bracelets made, with this Scripture on the back:
"He heals up the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

What have you got to lose?
What does someone else have to gain?

To spread the word, perhaps consider reposting this on your own blog or Facebook page?
Have a heart this weekend - save a life, maybe Abbye's, maybe someone else's - and register.

Tonight at 8:18pm Texas time, Abbye was wheeled to surgery with a heart that has been confirmed as a match for her. {Obviously I am in a puddle of tears crying my eyes out right now and about to get on my knees} He is so faithful... #praise
The surgery will take 6-8 hours. Please continue to pray for Abbye and for a successful surgery!