Matters of the Heart

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is in the air (along with all of this crazy snow Maryland has been getting) and many of us have flowers, candy, cards and hearts on our brains. So, to keep with the theme of Valentine’s Day, and to go hand-in-hand with the fact that February 14th is also National Donor Awareness Day, we will be showcasing a few of our volunteers who have been fortunate enough to receive a heart transplant.


Adam was 16 years old when he began to suffer from unexplained heart failure. He had a heart transplant on February 19, 2000… which means he has a 10-year-anniversary coming up very soon!




As a husband and the father of two young girls, Allan was devastated and shocked when he went to the hospital after feeling very ill and tired on a family trip to the beach and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. After suffering three strokes, and being placed on multiple machines to help pump his blood through his body, Allan received the gift of life: a new heart. He now lives a fulfilling life and has developed a strong relationship with his heart donor’s father.


As the recipient of two heart transplants as well as a kidney transplant, Henry certainly has a lot for which to be thankful for. He and his family are more than grateful for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances at life Henry has been given by three very selfless people.




At one-month-old, Lorma was diagnosed with a heart defect and her parents were given a very grim prognosis for her future. At age two, she had her first surgery, but doctors were not optimistic about her survival. Despite this, she progressed far beyond doctors’ expectations. She went into congestive heart failure in 2003 and had two cardiac arrests, leaving her oxygen-dependent and wheelchair-bound. She was placed on the transplant waiting list, and less than three months later, received a heart and lungs from her 16-year-old donor, Matthew, who suffered fatal injuries in a football game. Lorma went on to compete with Team Maryland at the U.S. Transplant Games in 2009, while Matthew’s family cheered her on from the stands, and she continues to participate in the Transplant Games each year to celebrate her transplant and to honor her donor’s memory.


After contracting an unknown virus which left her in heart failure, Myra, a roller-skating rink manager, had to hang up her skates and focus on her health.  She underwent treatment for four years until 1997, when she was hospitalized and told she only had a month to live. Fortunately, Myra received her heart transplant in the nick of time, and will be forever grateful to her donor, whose picture she carries around with her. “I will celebrate her memory for the rest of my life,” says Myra of her donor.


At four-months-old, Olivia broke out into a rash and started having trouble breathing. Upon being examined at the hospital, doctors discovered the left side of Olivia’s heart was no longer working. She was transferred to The Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, but went into cardiac arrest on the way there. Olivia’s unstable condition placed her high on the waiting list and she received the gift of life, a new heart, the same night she was placed on the transplant waiting list. Olivia, now three  years old is able to live life as a healthy three-year-old should, and the love and gratitude her parents, Amanda and Alex, have for Olivia’s donor is apparent every time they look at their little girl.

 More than 2 million Marylanders have said yes to donation by registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor. This Valentine’s Day, have a heart, and put a heart on your license so you can be a hero and save lives too. You can register two different ways: say “YES” to donation when you renew your driver’s license at the MVA, or visit and register today. Be a hero, be a donor.


About Lauren

Lauren Muskauski is the communications associate at The Living Legacy Foundation. She heads up many community outreach initiatives and projects, with a focus on middle school, high school and college outreach. She also manages The LLF’s and Donate Life Maryland’s presence on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Lauren’s commitment to donation started early when she registered as an organ, eye and tissue donor at the MVA upon receiving her first drivers’ license, but was then reinforced a few years later when her father passed away while waiting for a liver transplant. Now, she continues to be inspired on a daily basis by the generosity of donors and their families, as well as the gratitude exhibited by every recipient she meets.
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