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Recipient Stories

Tuesday’s Tale: New Year, New Lease on Life

Jean Rosile received the ultimate Christmas gift a little early this year.  She had a heart transplant on Oct. 8, 2010 thanks to the generosity of a donor.  This holiday season, she will celebrate her second chance and start the New Year with a new lease on life.

Rosile’s family has a history of heart disease.  Many members have been afflicted by a form of cardiomyopathy, or weakening of the heart muscle.   Sadly, four  of her family members have died from the disease, including Rosile’s mother, sister, father and nephew.

Symptoms began to show in Rosile in the 90s.  She sought treatment and was placed on an internal defibrillator, a device that can help patients recover from sudden cardiac arrest.  Rosile, who followed doctor’s orders to work out every day to keep her heart healthy, was able to live with her illness until the spring of 2008.

“I was working full time as a teacher,” said the Pickerington, Ohio resident, “And I was just dragging.  It was at that point that a transplant was mentioned.”

Rosile underwent different forms of treatment over the next few years, trying to extend the life of her heart as long as possible.  By March 2010, it was time to start preparing for a transplant.

Rosile was listed for a heart on July 15, 2010.  “I knew it was inevitable,” she said.  It was kind of scary, kind of exciting.”

Doctors advised Rosile that it could take up to a year for a donor heart to become available.  During her wait, Rosile’s health deteriorated.  The avid tennis player was suffering from shortness of breath, had to stop when walking up stairs and was physically drained.  She continued to persevere, her competitive, stubborn spirit helping her along the way.

“When I received the call for the transplant, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh,” said Rosile.  Less than two weeks after her transplant Rosile was home.  “I continue to get better,” she said.  “Right now my full-time job is to recover.”

To thank her donor for the gift she received, Rosile sent a letter, as did her husband.  “They’re not just my donor family, they’re my ‘angel family,’” she said.

This holiday season will be a relaxing one for Rosile, who is planning on a “low-key holiday” – another season she will celebrate thanks to her donor.  “This is like a re-birth for me,” she said.  “I will do my best to honor this gift.”

Editor’s Note: It is with much sadness that we share that after a life-long battle with heart disease, Jean Rosile died on March 28, 2011.

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