Although organs are not matched according to race/ethnicity, and people of different races frequently match one another, all individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from their racial/ethnic background.
Before Jennifer Rohe became ill, she considered herself to be an active young mother raising her toddler son. On evenings and weekends, she enjoyed family time on hikes and trips around the Pacific Northwest.
In November 2017, Jennifer gave birth to her new beautiful baby girl. Things seemed fine initially – she slept well, had no issues breastfeeding, and her son adored his new sister. Unfortunately, soon after Jennifer began experiencing extreme shortness of breath.
These symptoms brought her back to the hospital where she had delivered her daughter only days before. After running some test, doctors told Jennifer she was experiencing severe heart failure due to a rare condition called Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM), which can occur during or immediately following delivery and causes the heart to not be able to pump blood through the body.
Jennifer was soon transferred to the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). She was put on an extreme form of life support that ran her blood through a machine to oxygenate it so her heart could rest. Unfortunately, her heart still did not improve and she was told that her only option was to receive a temporary artificial heart as a bridge to a heart transplant.
Though there were many obstacles throughout her wait, including blood clots and having a stroke.
“My experience was a whirlwind compared to most people who have to get transplant. From heart failure diagnosis to transplant was around 50 days,” says Jennifer. “Although the timing was pretty quick, that does not mean it wasn’t eventful.
Still, Jennifer says the hardest part was being away from her babies. She was brought to tears with happiness when her doctor told her there was a donor heart that matched her.
Jennifer has always been an organ donor herself, but the act of donation is much more real to her now that she received a new heart. She is grateful for the heart her donor gave her as a gift of life and can now enjoy spending time with her family.
“Now that I’ve had my transplant, I get to see my children grow up and they don’t have to go throughout life without their mom,” said Jennifer.