Three years ago I started a non-profit, Ava’s Heart. I wanted to help those that have been given the gift of life live a better quality of life, by providing support for transplant candidates and recipients with limited means, or no health insurance. Our work ensures that they receive medication, housing, and financial aid during their transplant journey.
Why did I start this non-profit?
Well, five years ago, my healthy and happy life with my 11 year old daughter came to an abrupt stop by an auto-immune disease that went misdiagnosed for three months. I ended up at Cedars Sinai Medical Center with a failed heart being kept alive by machines, given days to live.
I was put on the transplant list as an experiment. It was never expected that I would live, because no one had ever seen this disease destroy a heart. In a series of events that can only be described as miracles, ten days later I received a heart transplant with the heart of a 17 year old boy, on my birthday, just in time to save my life. I was in the hospital for four months.
It took me two years to come back to ‘me’. I lost everything - a several million dollar business, a two million dollar home, horses, a celebrity lifestyle. My fortune was gone. My husband had fled. My health was shattered. But my spirit was intact. And I had my daughter, my reason to live, the source of my survival.
While in the hospital I chose to dedicate the life that my donor family gave me towards helping others. This is how I've chosen to 'pay it forward'.
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