Some of us can go our whole lives without knowing a heart transplant patient. When you do your life is forever changed and you are greatful for the gift.
In 1992 Emma Maurene became the first infant in the state of Minnesota to receive a heart transplant. Emma was born with an under developed heart valve and was admitted to the University of Minnesota Hospital on the day she was born. At three months old she had her heart transplant in St Louis Missouri. Someone had to go first, to prove the odds wrong, and champion the way for other infant heart transplants. There was no better fit than this little girl.
Emma was a beautiful little girl. Full of life, smiles, and laughter. She fought a good fight giving it her all until the bitter end. Shortly after Christmas Emma was admitted to St. Johns Hospital in Red Wing, and like other times she was flown to the University of Minnesota to have her condition cared for. The common cold would prove to be to strong for this little girls body to fight off. Sadly Emma passed away on December 29th, 1995.
The church was packed to the gills, hundreds came to say goodbye to a tiny little girl. Her love and her zest for life is what carries us. Her memory brings peace knowing that in those three short years they gained more knowledge that would allow them to save little girls like Emma all over the world.
Emma fueled my involvement with the American Heart Association and the National Organ Donor Program. My uncle use to have a bumper sticker on his truck that read “Recycle Yourself and Save A Life.” Its true each and every one of us are capable of saving a life by donating our organs. One family had to make a heart wrenching decision when their child died, that child’s heart, gave my uncle and his wife three years with Emma. An now Emma is saving lives. The University of Minnesota is now a leader in pediatric heart transplants, they got this information and learned from our Emma Maurene.
Emma is close to my heart and when I am on stage advocating for heart health I think of her. Her Daddy was robbed of his little girl. Jeffery never got to watch Emma go on her first date, graduate from high school, or walk her down the aisle. Instead he got to say goodbye on a snowy December day. I think of all the Fathers I have met and how they tell me heart disease robbed them of their daughter. Of how hard it was to watch their little girls slip away.
Heart disease is the #1 KILLER of Women in America. If you ask me, we need to stop it in its tracks and put it to bed once and for all. Every woman you meet is someone’s daughter and their Father’s deserve to see their lives unfold.