On August 4, 1994, 16-year-old Tina Buck of Chesapeake had a change of heart. After weeks in the hospital awaiting a donor heart and after years of struggling with a heart condition that became dangerously weakened that summer, she received the gift that changed her life – a new heart.
Today, 30-year-old Tina is a healthy young woman who doesn’t have to look far to count her blessings. And high among those blessings are the many friends she garnered during her years as a patient in CHKD’s cardiology program. Her road since her heart transplant at CHKD in 1994 has had a bump or two – “I also had a kidney transplant four years after my heart surgery,” she says – and the occurrence of unexplained seizures has kept her from a few adventures, including driving a car. “But I never think about myself as having a new heart or kidney,” she says today. “I’m very lucky in so many ways.”
Tina has graduated from college and has purchased her own home. Three years ago, she also had the opportunity to meet the heart donor’s family. “It was awesome,” she recalls. “The mom lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and is blind, so I really like finding ways to communicate to show her how her child’s heart lives on.”
The year after her heart transplant, an article about her appeared in Kidstuff magazine showing a smiling Tina on the cover, leaning on the hood of her Mustang. “Don’t have the car anymore,” she said. But fond memories of the friends she made at CHKD are still with her. Transplant coordinator Debbie Anderson, who still works at CHKD as she did when Tina was a patient here, says, “She is an incredible young woman who finds time to come help us talk to other young people who have serious heart conditions. She is an inspiration to them when they need one the most.”
This story was featured in the first quarter 2009 issue of KidStuff, a publication of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters. Click to read more patients' stories.