Strangers Receive Heart Transplants On Same Day, Then Something Incredible Happens
Collin and Taylor were mere strangers when they met in passing at the hospital. By sheer chance they both desperately needed a heart transplant on the exact same day in the same hospital. Tragic events brought them together, but even in the darkest of times, the two found inspiration through a twist of larger-than-life miracles and outcomes. However, as life moved on and the already-faint memory of one other began to dwindle even further, they could never have imagined that five years later they would be brought together again and something amazing would happen.
1. An Above Average Senior
Taylor Givens was sitting in her AP Comparative Government class one day during her senior year when things started to go downhill. She was your above average student, always getting good grades, and she was heavily involved in extracurricular activities such as choir.
Taylor’s senior year was the best she had ever had. She had even already been accepted to Radford University in Virginia and had planned on studying music therapy. But then something terrible happened. And by spring of that same year she started to feel it.
2. Something Was Wrong
By spring of her senior year, Taylor started to feel like something was wrong with her body. She suffered from shortness of breath, fatigue and a racing heart. She was also feeling more and more depressed and anxious without any reason.
Taylor and her mother made multiple trips to the family doctor about the issues, but the diagnosis was always the same. The doctor told her that it was just senior stress and being nervous about starting college the following semester. But Taylor had something far worse than just stress, something that rest and hydration couldn’t fix.
3. Stress And Anxiety
Eventually, Taylor’s stress and anxiety got so bad that she wound up in a psychiatric hospital. She was put on mood-stabilizers and underwent some art therapy, but none of that really helped. She was released after just one week.
“I knew my body better than anybody, and I knew that something was wrong,” she later recalled. What she didn’t know at the time was that she would soon find out what was wrong with her and it would turn her world upside down.
4. Back To The Doctor
Even though the possibility of Taylor’s issues being psychiatric in nature wasn’t unreasonable, she was still suffering from all the same symptoms as before. The Givens family was running out of patience and decided to go back to the family doctor.
Taylor’s parents finally convinced the doctor to do an x-ray of her chest to see if there was something wrong. This was the moment that everything started to change for Taylor. Later that day, her doctor called to say that Taylor needs to get to a cardiologist as soon as possible. He didn’t offer any more details….
5. At The Cardiologist
The very next day, the Givens were at the cardiologist just as they had been instructed. They waited while the doctor performed more tests, not knowing what was going on. But it sounded like it was very serious.
After the tests, the cardiologist explained to Taylor and her parents that she had an enlarged heart. But then he started throwing around the word “transplant.” Everyone was in utter disbelief. The cardiologist told them to go straight to the hospital.
6. No Stops!
When Taylor’s parents asked if they could stop by the house just to pick up a few things, they were told no. ‘”‘No, you need to go straight to the hospital. If you’re not going to go straight to the hospital, then I’m going to put her in an ambulance,” the cardiologist said.
That is when the severity started to set in about Taylor’s condition. Obviously, this was a very serious matter. They were told that Taylor’s “ejection fraction,” which is the percentage of blood being pumped out from the heart, was only at 10 percent.
7. Twenty-Four Hours
While that may not mean much to most people, an average ejection fraction should be 60 percent or higher. At just 10 percent Taylor was told that the majority of people who go into the hospital with such a low percentage don’t make it even 24 hours.
The news shook the entire family. Taylor was rushed to the ER and the medical team started cutting off her dress because her heart had already started failing. She was allowed to make one last phone call, to tell her boyfriend that she would most likely die.
8. An Enlarged Heart
While no one is quite sure what exactly caused Taylor’s heart condition, the doctors believe that it may have been caused by a cold virus that reached her heart. This would have theoretically damaged her heart tissue, causing it to enlarge.
“It ruined the muscle and it got bigger to compensate,” Taylor said. “It was completely random and shocking.” Everyone was at a loss for words, even the doctors. Then something truly terrifying happened, even the doctor started crying.
9. Five Percent
Taylor’s ejection percentage had already fallen to 5 percent. Her heart was failing at a faster rate than anyone had previously thought. At this point Taylor only had a few hours to live unless drastic measures were taken to save her life.
“That’s when it really hit us,” Taylor’s mother said. “If the doctor is crying about this, we should probably be crying about this, too.” That was the moment that everything really sunk in. When a doctor cries, you know that it most likely means the worst news possible.
10. Heart Transplant
The decision was made to put Taylor on life support as a final resort. She had been moved to the top of the list for a heart transplant seeing as she was only 17 years old.
But that didn’t guarantee her a heart in time. Most people wait months to years to receive a donor, time that Taylor simply didn’t have! Life support is so traumatic to the body that even adults don’t last more than two weeks on it.
11. Running Out Of Time
Doctors believed that Taylor only had about a week or so left before her body started to shut down. If she didn’t receive a heart transplant within that time, her chances of surviving were slim to none.
To make matters worse, people who are placed on life support rarely survive the heart transplant procedure. With all those risks in place, the unthinkable happened: her life support machine started to malfunction. A crew of nurses had to physically pump oxygenized blood into her body while frantically trying to fix the machine. Was it time up for Taylor?
A spare machine was brought in as a backup just in case the original machine stopped working. Thankfully the nurses were able to repair the machine in time. Then they took the spare machine to another room just down the hall.
This is when Taylor learned that there was a man in almost the exact same position as she herself was in just a few doors down. Taylor recalls one of the nurses telling her that he was only a few years older than her. She didn’t think much of it at the time, but he was a man that would change her life forever.
13. Sick From Birth
Collin Kobelja, also known thus far as the “man down the hall,” has a very different story than Taylor. From his birth, Collin had a congenital heart defect. Collin was born grayish and his tongue and nails were dark colored.
Shortly after his birth, at just three days old, he had a heart shunt implanted. Heart transplants were extremely rare during the late 1980s and it wouldn’t be until he was 17 months old that a heart became available.
14. Collin’s Heart Transplant
Thankfully, Collin received his heart transplant just after New Year’s 1990. But it wasn’t without serious trepidation from his parents. “You want this heart transplant, but you’re scared to death that he may not make it,” Collin’s mother said.
Even with the new heart, the rate of survival is extremely low for a child. What’s more, even if everything works out perfectly in the operating room, there was only a 50 percent chance that Collin would have still been alive after five years. But something strange happened that would convince his family to go through with it.
15. A Change of Heart
But Collin’s family decided to go through with the heart transplant anyways, for one very unusual reason. Just two weeks before Collin was admitted to the hospital, he and his family had been at a Chinese restaurant.
Collin was chomping down on a fortune cookie and the fortune inside was emblazoned with the words, ‘”you will have a change of heart.” His mother took this as a sign, and she even kept the fortune in a safe place along with Collin’s baptism gown and other childhood memories. Then something terrible happened.
16. Just The Flu
While Collin and his family were preparing to move in the spring of 2011, Collin became sick with what everyone thought was just the flu. He was 22 years old at the time, far older than the doctors predicted that he would ever be.
Collin was suffering from fatigue, a bad cough that wouldn’t go away, and nausea. Then, one day he couldn’t even catch his breath while walking up to his front door. His family decided that it was time to go to the doctor, but they weren’t ready for the result.
17. Ten Percent And Falling
As Collin had already received a heart transplant at such a young age, the doctor performed an echocardiogram just to be safe. That’s when the devastating news came in. Collin’s ejection fraction was only 10 percent.
Meaning, just as it did for Taylor, that his heart was failing. The heart Collin grew up with for so many years was now failing, and with no obvious reason. The doctors were forced to put him back on the transplant list for another heart.
18. Regrets And Guilt
“Things went downhill, downhill, downhill,” his mother recalled. She remembers the regret and guilt that she felt about not doing something sooner. “Who knew a terrible cough was really heart failure?” she said. But as she found out, it certainly can be heart failure.
Collin didn’t know it at the time but just a few rooms down from his hospital room was another person who was waiting for a heart. That person was Taylor Givens. Collin was quickly put on life support and the clock started ticking.
19. Ticking Time Bomb
Collin was attached to the very same life support machine that had been in Taylor’s room as a backup. The doctors had to heavily sedate Collin in order to keep him alive. His father, who had been studying medicine since his son’s first heart transplant, knew things weren’t looking good.
In fact, Collin’s father is now a hospital chief in the Washington area, originally an anesthesiologist. He knew exactly what the doctors meant when they were told that if a donor heart didn’t become available soon, they would have to discuss their options.
20. Two Hearts
Now, the hospital was in desperate need of two hearts and they needed them quickly, as neither Taylor nor Collin had much more time left. But the chances of getting two hearts was unfortunately very slim.
Also, in the event that the hospital only received one heart, it would end up going to Taylor due to her young age. And even then, the chances of her body accepting the heart after being on life support were unfortunately minuscule.
21. Life And Death
Taylor and Collin would need an enormous amount of luck to both receive hearts and survive the transplant operation. Both of their lives were hanging in the balance, and neither looked like they would have a good outcome.
The chance that a patient on life support can become stable enough for an operation, much less an invasive transplant, is almost unheard of. According to one of their doctors, if even one of them received a heart and survived, it would be like winning the lottery. So what happened next would shock everyone.
22. A Miracle
Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a heart in Georgia became available and was a possible match for Taylor. Once the organ has been removed from the host body, doctors have less than a six-hour window to perform the transplant.
Then, amazingly another heart became available in Florida and it had been offered to Collin. So, together, both within a 24 hour period, both Taylor and Collin began getting prepped for heart transplant surgery. Something the doctors were already deeming a miracle. But there were more miracles to come.
23. Smooth Operation
It was not just a miracle that both Taylor and Collin received new hearts, but also that their operations went smoothly. The doctors were in shock, saying that both of them certainly won the lottery that day.
But the two weren’t out of the woods just yet. The road to recovery from a heart transplant and making sure that the body doesn’t reject the new organ is a long and hard one. And it wasn’t without complications.
Just shortly after the operation, the surgeons discovered that Taylor had internal bleeding in her abdomen, forcing the doctors to reopen her and deal with the life-threatening issue. Her parents waited in the waiting room for what seemed like an eternity hoping for some good news.
When the doctors emerged from the operating room they indeed had good news, much to everyone’s relief. Had the internal bleeding not been spotted within a few hours after the operation, Taylor wouldn’t have survived. But she wasn’t the only one who had complications …
25. A Bit Of A Jerk
Collin also had complications after his heart transplant,. He caught pneumonia and had so much swelling that he could barely even move an arm. Collin eventually recovered completely from the illness. In the midst of all this commotion, Taylor and Collin met in passing.
Their conversations were never more than a short “hello” and “how are you.” It was even so nonchalant to the point that Collin would rush out of his appointments almost as if he didn’t want to see Taylor. Taylor also thought he was a bit of a jerk, but that was all about to change soon.
26. Didn’t Want To Talk
“I was just in a bad place,” Collin later recalled. “I didn’t want to engage. I was unhappy. I didn’t want to talk about the experience.” Then about just one year after Collin’s second heart transplant, his heart started failing again.
After hearing the news, Taylor reached out to Collin on Facebook to see how he was doing. The two reconnected and chatted on and off about his condition. Luckily he was able to get a third heart transplant and fully recovered. Then something amazing happened.
27. Just A Regular Check-Up
In June of 2016, both Taylor and Collin were at the hospital for their regular check-ups when they bumped into each other. This time, Collin was different. More friendly and outgoing. The two talked and truly reconnected in person.
When Collin left, Taylor’s mother turned to her and told her daughter that he was flirting with her. There was a spark between the two and according to Taylor, “We have been emotionally inseparable since.” But sadly, there was still rough times ahead for the two.
28. The Happy Couple
Taylor and Colling started dating and everything was going smoothly until tragedy struck; something that neither of them expected. Taylor was diagnosed with cancer, specifically Burkitt lymphoma. Cancer that was likely caused due to her body’s reaction to the heart transplant.
But the couple wasn’t about to give up yet. They had already been through so much and their will to live was so strong that they knew they would make it through. “Collin took me to every infusion,” Taylor said. “When I was sick and throwing up until to 2 in the morning he was sitting up with me.” Something special was about to happen.
29. Cancer And Love
Again, the road to recovery was long and hard but Taylor eventually went into remission and fully recovered. Both Taylor and Collin fell madly in love and decided that they would spend whatever time they have left together.
The couple has decided to get married on the same date as they had their double heart transplants. “All of the things that fell into place for us to be together are wild. Everything has happened exactly as it needed to happen,” Taylor reminisced.
The couple plan on having an unconventional wedding to celebrate their marriage, one filled with all of their favorite things. In the meantime, the two have decided that they won’t have children due to their illnesses.
“We can deal with ourselves and our own mortality,” says Taylor, “but I don’t ever want to have to tell a kid that both of their parents have an illness that could take them out at any time.” But how has life been for them since their recoveries?
31. Looking Toward The Future
Both Collin and Taylor have picked up their lives just where they left off before their heart transplants. Nothing would stop them from succeeding. Collin finished college and is working as a human resources coordinator with Holy Cross Health.
Taylor wants to get involved in support services for teens when she fully recovers and also is a public speaker, advocating for organ donation. “We are not living some sort of superhero life. Organ transplants gave us a normal life,” she said. “We are happy to be able to move forward.”
We wish the happy couple a long and healthy life together! If you were inspired by their story, please remember to SHARE!!
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