Amazing: Heart transplant patient literally holds her heart in her own hands – See Photos

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<p>	This is my friend Penny. She is holding her own heart. She has survived cancer and crippling heart failure but never lost hope<br /><br /><br /><br />
KelseySnuffaluffagus/Imgur

Penny Smith holding her own heart. The photo became an Internet sensation when it was posted on the site Imgur with the caption: “This is my friend Penny. She is holding her own heart. She has survived cancer and crippling heart failure but never lost hope.”

She held her own heart in her hands, then became an Internet sensation, but Penny Smith of Lake Elsinore, Calif., is just happy to be alive — and overwhelmed by the attention a single photo of her has received.
The photo of a hospital-masked but clearly smiling Smith, cradling her first heart while the new one beats in her chest, was posted on social media site Imgur by a nursing school friend, and immediately drew attention.
Smith, 35, received her heart transplant in September 2012. She had known for years that she might one day need one.
“I was 3 and a half when I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins T-cell lymphoma and I went into remission at age 6,” she told the Daily News. “From there in 1994 I developed a heart problem, which my mom knew about. (The doctors) had told her when I went through chemo that I would have it.”
Heart_5_0119Courtesy of Penny Smith

Penny Smith and her family on her first trip outside after her heart transplant.

Heart_4_0119Courtesy of Penny Smith

Penny Smith’s husband inspects her old heart.

Doctors monitored her condition closely over the years, but, Smith says, “I went downhill in 2007. I couldn’t breathe, I could barely walk.
“So they put me on more meds, and I ended up going into the hospital for my heart transplant.”
Smith’s operation took place at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego last fall. “I went on the (transplant recipient) list Aug. 17 and got my heart on Sept. 13,” she said.
Doctors left her chest opened up initially, she said, because the donor heart was too big. “I was in there for four months (recovering),” she said. “I had two cardiac arrests.”
Smith doesn’t know her donor’s identity, just that he was a young male.
The amazing photo was taken months after the operation, in January.
“That was in the hospital in the pathology lab,” Smith said. “I was saying goodbye to my heart, actually, because I felt like it got me through half of my life and I needed to say goodbye to it. So I was saying goodbye, and getting to know my new heart.
“My doctors made me wait because they didn’t think I was ready. I wanted to be able to hold it, and they didn’t want me to drop it.
“I was happy to see it again-well, see it for the first time, I guess.
“My husband even got to hold it. It felt really weird for both of us, but it was amazing to get to hold something that was once in someone.”
Heart_2_0119Courtesy of Penny Smith

Penny Smith after the September 2012 operation.

Heart_3_0119Courtesy of Penny Smith

Penny Smith and her husband with Penny’s old heart.

Smith is a registered nurse, but her focus these days is taking care of her young daughter, aged 3.
She posted the now-famous photo on her own Facebook in January, right after it was taken. “I didn’t think that people would actually respond to it. I thought they would be disturbed,” she said. “I’m just excited that people want to hear my story.”
For other transplant patients, Smith’s message is simple: Don’t give up hope.
“Don’t give up. Medicine nowadays is a miracle,” she said. “Don’t stop believing. There are people out there that can help you.”

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  • GOD IS WONDERFUL

    S. R ADEDAYO January 21, 2013 3:05 pm
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