The Phoenix Zine

Proof of Life


I wrote the following for an upcoming mini-zine swap on but my sister thought it would work well as a post. So here it is.

The other day I got the phone call I’ve been dreading for months, actually, no, YEARS.

The call told me that I am now on the heart transplant list at my hospital, because the restrictive cardiomyopathy I have had since birth has finally damaged my heart enough that my life is in danger without one.

I am 26 years old.

And it’s funny because this isn’t the first time my body has needed such a replacement.

When I was four, doctors told my parents my next birthday would be my last unless I had a liver transplant.

Of course, that was in 1988 when paediatric liver transplants were relatively new and having one had just as much risk of killing you as not having one did.

But I made it through. Call it a good match, or luck, or God watching out for me, but 21 years later my transplanted liver and I are still co-existing blissfully, knock wood.

Did you know there are less than two hundred people in the world who have had both a heart and a liver transplant?

My doctor told me that. And I don’t even think it matters if the two transplants took place at the same time or at different times, the number is still less than a hundred.

I’ve been hearing since birth just how unique my situation is. The genetic illness I inherited was rare, the severity of my disease was uncommon, needing and having a liver transplant as a child was infrequent, and then needing a heart transplant years later is definitely unusual.

To that I like to say, “I won the genetic lottery. I think I would have preferred cash.”

Hearing over and over about my out of the ordinary medical status got old fast. I find myself craving someone who can offer me more substantial answers.

Although maybe it doesn’t matter no one can answer my questions, because the questions I really want answered I don’t think are answerable.

Questions like:

If my life is made up of lucky coincidences, will my luck eventually run out?

God is real to me, but if I don’t pray for him to help or heal me, does that mean I lack faith and trust?

Have I lived my life in a way honouring the life of my donor?

Does knowing I’m a fighter also mean I can be confident that I will make it through this again?

I’ve had a second chance at life, is it fair for me to ask for a third one?

If I let myself cry, will I ever stop?

Now I wait for another phone call. The phone call that says someone has died and I get to benefit from another family’s loss by getting a new heart and a new chance at life.

And maybe it will work out for me, and maybe it won’t. Either way, I wait.




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