Heartiversary: The struggles and triumphs of a heart transplant, and the blessing of CHM, Linda Eckstein, Plano, Texas

Total eligible bills
$3,394,545
Provider discounts
$1,478,669
Total bills shared
$1,909,869

*Editor’s note: This information was published in the November 2021 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*

 

Seemingly out of nowhere, I began having “fuzzy” episodes. Within a week, I started passing out. There was no warning; I was out within seconds.

At the ER, the doctors determined I had severe bradycardia, meaning my heart was beating too slowly. I needed a pacemaker. One was implanted the next morning.

For the next two weeks, I felt much better and my husband, Ernest, and I assumed the problem was fixed. However, I soon struggled with severe shortness of breath. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps without resting.

My cardiologist thought it was an issue with the wires on my pacemaker. It was rare, he said, but some patients required a third lead. However, this procedure did not go as planned.

At that point, they realized something much more serious was going on.

Over the next few weeks, my condition worsened. I had to be put on an ECMO machine to breathe for me. My survival was tentative, and the only hope was a transplant.
God never left me and continued moving through my situation. The day after I was listed for a heart transplant, I had a heart offer. After a six-hour surgery, I had a new heart!

Following my heart transplant, I had multiple health setbacks, such as pneumonia (three times) and kidney failure. The greatest concern, however, was my lack of responsiveness. For weeks, I couldn’t answer questions or talk to anyone consistently.

At almost three months post-transplant, it was like a switch flipped. My responsiveness and personality quickly returned to normal.

At five months, I was finally able to go home. Ernest and I both cried as he wheeled me into our kitchen. There were several times he doubted I would ever return.

We also discovered that my heart failure was due to an extremely rare disease called Giant Cell Myocarditis. Only 300 cases have been recorded since the early 1900s. Until 1987, all cases were diagnosed at autopsy. Praise God that He’s still in the miracle business!

One of the most uplifting aspects of being a CHM member was the many cards and notes of encouragement I received. They came from people we didn’t know, and they took the time to write to me.

We were—and continue to be—amazed that our bills are paid. For me, ongoing care will be a way of life. With all the worry about my survival and now my continued health care needs, it’s an enormous blessing to know my CHM family is supporting me financially and spiritually.

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