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Amazing transplant story!


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Lisa Salberg Find out more about Lisa Salberg
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  • Amazing transplant story!

    Copyright 2004 The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS)
    All Rights Reserved
    The Clarion-Ledger

    December 20, 2004 Monday


    LENGTH: 851 words

    HEADLINE: Out of the abundance of a heart

    BYLINE: Lora Hines, [email protected]


    Decision saves Magee woman


    *Donor's family meets recipient, 7A

    By Lora Hines

    MAGEE - Lindsay Miller tooled along I-10, full of life, as she headed with
    her twin brother, boyfriend and other friends to her 10-year-old brother's
    birthday party in Pascagoula.

    Elizabeth Carpenter, barely able to walk the 62 steps to the mailbox at the
    end of her driveway in Magee, was feeling her life fading.

    In the seconds of squealing tires and Miller's desperate effort to regain
    control of her Toyota 4Runner, Miller's life ebbed and soon flowed into

    On Sept. 12, Carpenter received the heart belonging to Miller, a young woman
    who dreamed of becoming a world-traveling journalist.

    "We will forever be bonded," Carpenter said. "She wanted to be an organ and
    tissue donor. She had to be amazing. She was a very smart girl. She had so many
    positive things in her life. I think I would live my life in a way she would
    approve of."

    Before the transplant, Carpenter's weight, normally around 95 to 100 pounds,
    had dropped to 82. The petite 24-year-old no longer had energy to wash her long
    hair or brush her teeth.

    First diagnosed at 11, Carpenter always knew the genetic disease from which
    she and her younger sister suffer gradually would destroy her heart.

    At the time, Carpenter said it didn't occur to her how bad things had gotten.
    "You don't realize not everybody feels this way," she said. "I thought I was
    getting older. I had to admit that I was sick."

    On July 13, Carpenter was placed on the state's heart transplant list.

    On Sept. 10, Miller was driving on I-10 East when a vehicle swerved into her
    path, forcing her to move out of the way, Biloxi police said. Miller lost
    control of the 4Runner she was driving and hit a concrete embankment before
    rolling several times.

    Miller, her boyfriend, Maksim Sisoev, a 20-year-old foreign exchange student
    from Uzbekistan, and Elizabeth Finch, 19, of Clinton, died. Miller's twin
    brother, Josh, and Nicole Thurman, 19, of Picayune were hurt.

    Krystal Marie Teston, 21, of Florida has been charged with four counts of
    felony aggravated DUI.

    Carpenter and Miller's family have corresponded. They have not met. People
    who know the Millers said the family still is grieving. The family isn't
    prepared to speak publicly.

    Sunday was Josh's birthday. It would have been Lindsay's, too.

    James Laird of the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency said some donor families
    never communicate with their recipients.

    "Donor families are just happy to receive a card," he said.

    Laird's son, Jonathan, now 13, received a liver transplant in 1992 when he
    was 7 months old. The organ came from a year-old boy who died from a brain

    The donor family has not contacted the Lairds.

    "I still send them things, and I never get anything back," he said. "That's
    OK, too."

    Besides Carpenter and her sister, Katie Layton, the family disease -
    idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis - also has attacked a couple of
    great-uncles and cousins. The disease gradually causes the heart muscle to
    become too thick to properly function.

    "At first, it's not that bad," Carpenter said. "You function normally." As
    the heart becomes thicker, it begins to fail.

    Carpenter is the first in her family to receive a heart transplant.

    Carpenter's family thought she would die before Christmas without the
    transplant. She married her husband, Terry, five weeks after she was placed on
    the transplant list.

    The couple's hometown of about 4,200 helped plan and celebrate their Aug. 7
    wedding. People brought food. Her pharmacist filmed the event.

    "The entire Magee community pulled the wedding together," Carpenter said. "It
    was the most beautiful wedding I've ever seen."

    Meanwhile, she prayed for her heart. "I asked, 'Whoever my donor is, let them
    have a Christian heart. God can help their family heal.'

    "Lindsay was the perfect person in every aspect," Carpenter said.

    Since her transplant, she has gained 30 pounds. Her gaunt face has
    transformed into a "moon face," she said, because of medication she takes to
    prevent rejection of her donor heart.

    Carpenter's new-found energy, she said, "is really amazing to me."

    Now Layton, 21, is waiting to get on the transplant list. Layton, diagnosed
    with her family's heart disease at 9, feels as weak as her sister did before her

    "It feels like someone is holding a pillow to her face," Carpenter said,
    describing her sister's symptoms. "You can't breath. Even talking takes energy."

    Although Layton is weak, she uses her energy and quick wit to banter with her
    older sister. Layton enjoys sharing details about her sister's recovery.

    She is not anxious to follow her sister's path, although Carpenter wants her
    to feel as good as she does now.

    "That's the best news you can give me," Carpenter said.

    But the family knows Layton's recovery depends on another family's grief.

    "I'm in awe of the decision that the Millers made and that Lindsay made,"
    said Carpenter's mother, Darlene Garner. "I know it's just so hard for them to
    make that decision. Thank goodness for those people."

    GRAPHIC: Elizabeth Carpenter (left), 24, of Magee received a donor heart from
    Mississippi College student Lindsey Miller, who was killed in a September auto
    accident. Elizabeth suffered from a condition known as cardiomyopathy that also
    afflicts her younger sister Katie Layton, 21. Soon, Layton expects to be placed
    on a waiting list for her own heart transplant. Joe Ellis, The Clarion-Ledger;
    ON THE LIST; Candidates awaiting donor organs, by organ, in the United States as
    of Dec. 10: *All - 87,366 *Kidney - 60,356 *Pancreas - 1,664 *Kidney, pancreas
    -2,441 *Liver - 17,394 *Intestine - 196 *Heart - 3,314 *Lung - 3,929 *Heart,
    lung - 172 The category "all candidates" is less than the sum because some are
    waiting for multiple organs. Source: United Network for Organ Sharing

    LOAD-DATE: December 21, 2004
    ********** Email Completed **********
    Time of Delivery: December 21, 2004 03:47 PM EST
    Email Number: 1862:24781061
    Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
    YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

    Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
    lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
    Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
    Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
    Currently not obstructed
    Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

  • #2
    It's really sad that someone has to leave before someone else can be helped, but they leave behind the gift of life.
    Sign your donor card today.
    Every great thing that has ever happened since the beginning of time has started as a single thought in someones mind.
    So if you are capable of thought then you are capable of great things
    Good luck and stay well.


    • #3
      Thanks to all the donors in the world.


      Husband has HCM.
      3 kids - ages 23, 21, & 19. All presently clear of HCM.


      • #4
        I have carried a donor card for years and years. I would deem it a privilege to be able to help somebody live as my final act on this earth.

        The way things are going though, I may very well be a recipient first, and when I go, have nothing left worth salvaging. I figure, even the willingness has to be worth something in the final accounting.

        I actually would love to see the process reversed. Everybody would be a donor unless they carried a card which said they did not want to be. In that way a persons final wishes could be observed, but still the wait for an organ would be significantly reduced.

        You see, I think at the end most people would want to help someone else live, but they just never get around to making up the donor card – or in some states – have it put on their driver’s license. I guess they feel like it’s tempting fate, while actually it is tempting fate to take that last significant privilege from them. Please folks, people are dying for your help.


        • #5
          It has been said that if you save one person you have saved the world. My sister was an organ donor and 3 people benefited from her gifts. Please talk to your family members about you wishes to be an organ donor!

          Peace to all,
          Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
          YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

          Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
          lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
          Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
          Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
          Currently not obstructed
          Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)