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Life Stories: A New Heart for Eddie’s Abuela

Amalia Castaneda Amalia Castaneda

Amalia, Heart Recipient, IL

Amalia and her husband Eduardo are very busy; they have four grandchildren to watch after school until their parents can pick them up. The couple dishes out the fresh fruit snacks and gets the kids started on their homework, then settle in to tell the story of Amalia’s heart transplant.

Amalia, a hard worker all her life, was in her 50s when she began to feel weak, tired and frequently out of breath. Doctors diagnosed her problem; she had heart disease, and would need to be put on the transplant waiting list. Her condition worsened, with several serious incidents. Ultimately, she was moved into the hospital to wait for a donor organ. “I knew I was in my final days,” says Amalia.

Then, just in time, she received a heart transplant. But the gift was hard for her to accept. “I knew for me, it was a new life. But for some other family, there had been a great sadness.”

Amalia remains grateful for her new heart. While she hasn’t been able to meet or thank her donor’s family, Amalia placed a memorial to her donor in the garden of their home. “I just wanted a way to remember and say ‘thank you, for giving me new life’.”

Today Amalia tries to honor her donor by helping others. She volunteers at her church; she even donated her hair for cancer victims. But most of all, her family is grateful to have their “Abuela” back.  If not for her heart transplant, Amalia would have missed watching her family grow up and her sons launch businesses. She wouldn’t have been there for the return of her son, a fighter pilot, from Afghanistan—or to see the new grandchild on the way.

It is a reminder of just how many lives are transformed when someone donates the gift of life.

"If not for her heart transplant, Amalia would have missed watching her family grow up…."


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