I remember seeing a powerful image circulating instagram. A young woman shortly after receiving a heart transplant.. Her scars worn with such grace and power. A symbol of the importance of organ donation. At just 24 years old, Rebecca Craven went on a Bali holiday and caught what appeared to be the common cold, never would she have thought it would lead to a heart transplant.
When did you first find out you were sick and what was your initial thought when your specialist told you that the virus had reached your heart?
I found out in the early months of 2014 that I had chronic heart failure. They had told me that the virus had attacked the left side of my heart and it was only working at 16%. Immediately I thought I was going to die. Being only 24 at the time and having a list of goals I wanted to achieve, I thought there was some kind of mistake? Surely I can't have anything wrong with my heart, I'm too young. It was so devastating and a real big blow to my dreams.
How long were you waiting for a donor and what events occurred during this period?
I was waiting for 8 months for a suitable heart. My heart had failed to the point where the doctors said I wouldn't last the wait for a transplant and would need a mechanical heart to keep me alive. So I had an LVAD (a mechanical heart) placed in the left side of my heart for 8 months until I received the call.
What did you miss most when you were waiting for the call?
The Ocean. I had a mechanical heart that was powered by a bag on the outside of my stomach, I couldn't even shower properly. So swimming in the ocean was out of the question.
Some people notice after receiving a transplant they discover talents unknown before or a new found like/dislike for something, have you experienced anything like this?
I haven't! Well at least I don't think I have? I do like rap music now...
What are your aspirations?
I want to be a person that people look up to instead of down upon for having a heart transplant. I want to be an international spokeswoman for not only people with heart defects, but girls who have imperfections. I have a massive scar showing now and I want girls to know thats ok to show off! It's part of your story and that's who you are.
What is your favorite quote?
The bravest thing you can do in a world like this, is to be yourself.
What is your advice to anyone going through a similar situation?
Everybody has their own journey. Don't compare yours to someone else's. I learnt that lesson the hard way. Try to be as positive as you can. I know how hard it can be but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise
How can we do more to help and become donors?
Talk about organ donation with your family. Go online to donate life and register to become an organ donor. The excuse of being too old and having a partying life doesn't matter! haha. You can save up to 10 people by donating.
http://www.donatelife.gov.au/ to register to donate in Australia
https://organdonor.gov/index.html to register to donate in the United States
Please remember, your family has final approval. Discuss your decision with them, if you are in a position to donate, your family will have the final say if you are unable to.