My name is Laurence, I’m French and I was born with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This is a congenital heart disease passed on by my father, who died of sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 44, when I was 8 years old. I found out when I was 25 that I had the same condition, but I still led rather normal life : – I was told I couldn’t have children, because being pregnant is such a strain on the heart. But thanks to an incredible cardiologist, I did have 2 kids. – I was told not to practice any violent sports, but I started skiing at the age of 3 and water skiing at the age of 35.
My physical abilities were less than those of most people my age, but my life was rather normal. – But five years ago, everything brutally changed. I went into atrial fibrillation : this means that the heart atrium is no longer beating regularly and my resting heart rate went up to 150 bpm. Something as simple as brushing my teeth became an ordeal. In order to get my heartbeat back to normal, I went through numerous electric shocks, but these ended up not being enough and I had to get an operation disconnecting my atrium from the rest of my heart, a pacemaker and a defibrillator. I thought this procedure would be a miracle cure and that my life would get back to normal, but it didn’t. Things got worse and I ended up in stage 3 heart failure, unable to walk more than a block without stopping to catch my breath. In October 2019, I told my cardiologist my life wasn’t worth living anymore and that I was only staying alive for my children.
He told me the only solution would be to get a heart transplant and 2 months later, in November 2019, I was officially on the French heart transplant list, listed number 44. I stayed on the list for only three weeks. The day before Christmas eve, I got a call from the hospital : a heart was waiting for me. Things were hard after the transplant. I spent two months in the ICU on dialysis 24/7, because my kidneys weren’t functioning. A kidney transplant was even considered by my doctors. But as months passed, things got better. I am now just a year past my transplant. I can walk kilometers without stopping, I live on the fourth floor of my building and make a point of never taking the elevator, just to experience the happiness of making it up 4 flights of stairs without being out of breath. My children keep on telling me how incredible it is to have a mother that they can experience the simple things of life with again and my next goal is to get back on my skis as soon as I can !
This was all made possible thanks to an organ donor and his family, who, in one of the most tragic moments of their lives, had the generosity to think that the passing of the person they loved would not be in vain if he saved someone else’s life thanks to organ donation.