August 11, 2018

Today was the Transplant Reunion Party. The Transplant Reunion Party is an annual gathering of organ recipients hosted by Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at the Stanford Alumni Center. I got to meet people just like me!

When I arrived, there was a booth that awarded transplant patients with a medal saying “Your Type Of Organ Transplant Recipient”. Mine said Heart Transplant Recipient. They were shocked when I said I was only 4 months out of transplant. When I asked what organization they were, I became the one shocked. They were a club from my very own high school! More specifically the Pink Dot Club from Foothill High School.

Maddy, the club president, said her cousin died while waiting for a heart transplant, and that’s why she started the Pink Dot Club. Its motto is to raise awareness for organ transplant, and hopefully inspire people to become donors.

Discovering this club was so amazing because now there’s an entire club at school that understands my struggles. Once I start school, I’ll definitely be an advocate for them.

I was pulled aside during our conversation because there was another heart transplant patient speaking. This guy was younger than me, probably 10 years old. He had his transplant in March, not much shorter than I did.

His mom was starting to tear up. She described him being in the hospital and how hard it was. As any mother would, him suffering was also her suffering. When she got the call for the transplant, they were both so excited. It would be a new birthday! He had to be airlifted to the hospital, but he said he liked the helicopter ride. After transplant, he didn’t have to stay in the hospital anymore. His heart failure was over. He could now be a normal boy. They thanked Lucile Packard for their wonderful care, because all the nurses and doctors gave him wonderful support.

The boy who spoke is the one lifting up his shirt. The girl is the person next time.

After his speech, I met with him and another girl. He’s a really nice guy! He appreciates his new heart everyday. I learned he also likes to swim. His mom was nice too. He’s really lucky to have a mom so well spoken that loves him so much.

The girl was another heart recipient. She was the girl at Make-A-Wish that made a fashion runway show (see August 9, 2018). She had her transplant when she was 1. She was put on the list and had the transplant within 24 hours (24 HOURS! Wow) of each other. At 11 years old, she’s doing volleyball, cross country, and gymnastics. She’s a normal athlete, and that’s awesome. I hope in the future I can be an athlete. She told me that because of my new heart, I can go to Transplant Camp, a camp where the only campers allowed are transplant patients under 18.

I then gave my social worker my letter to the donor family. My social worker spoke to me earlier about reaching out through a letter, so I spent last night writing it. I hope they’ll want to reach out too. I’d love to meet them.

Another person I met was Lizzy Craze. Lizzy Craze is pretty impressive.

She is the only heart transplant recipient in America, and likely the world, to survive 30 years with the same donor heart she received as a toddler… Lizzy was the youngest successful heart transplant recipient at the time of her transplant.

Stanford Children’s Health

Today she runs marathons and participates in triathlons. I told her of my dream to run, bike, and swim. She told me with my new heart all I needed to do was train.

The woman with the purple shirt is Lizzy Craze.The woman with the blue shirt is my social worker. The woman with the grey shirt is my doctor.

Maddy, the club president for the Pink Dot Club came to return my medal. Together with the girl (the boy was out of sight) we decided to do some activities together. It was really fun experience. We colored plain converse shoes with rainbow sharpies and brushed thick paper with luscious amounts of paint. At the end of the Party, we exchanged numbers. The girl promised me to send a link to the Transplant Camp. Maddy and I will be working together on the Pink Dot Club. We’ll also see each other in school.

The girl wearing the white shirt is Maddy. The girl wearing the blue shirt is the Make-A-Wish person that made a run way show (see August 9, 2018).

Outside of the Stanford Alumni Center, my mom and I ate sandwiches under the tree. She asked me “Did you have a good time?” I answered “Definitely.”

August 24, 2018

Today the Pink Dot Club was featured at the Club Fair. The Pink Dot Club is a club at my High School that raises awareness for organ transplant. The Club Fair is an annual gathering of clubs at my High School for students to explore.

I left my class early to help the club president, Maddy, set up her booth. The sun was burning intensely, so I whipped out some sunscreen and spread it on my skin. Skin cancer is much easier to contract after transplant.

The substitute librarian stopped and looked at our club booth. She read the description and asked for more information. Maddy introduced the club and I introduced myself as a heart transplant recipient. I was shocked to learn that the substitute librarian had a kidney transplant.

Amy McCarthy, the substitute librarian, had her transplant when she was 40. I talked to her and she asked me what medication I was taking. I said Prograf, Cellcept, Cardizem, and Gleevec (my chemotherapy drug to control my eosinophils). She said it was amazing how I was only 4 months out of transplant and was taking such few medications. I said it was amazing that I wasn’t the only person to have a transplant. Someone I could finally relate to, which I described in detail at my first day of school, August 13, 2018.

Suddenly it seemed that I wasn’t the only person that’s gone through this. It’s so strange transitioning from being in the hospital to a “normal” life. I’m glad to have guidance from an older adult.

Once the club fair started, I met the other officers of the club. They seemed nice, but they didn’t pay much attention to me. People kept on coming to the booth. I didn’t say I had a heart transplant 100% of the time because I was still deciding if I should be normal.

September 18, 2018

Today was a Pink Dot Club meeting. Pink Dot Club is a club on my school that raises awareness for transplant. I met them at the transplant reunion party (see August 11, 2018).

We wrote cards to patients in the hospital. I made cards specifically to Nicole, the 10 year old girl in the hospital since May (see September 20, 2018) and Jessica (pseudonym). I’m going to donate the cards the next time I go to the hospital.

September 28, 2018

Today was my doctor appointment. At 7 AM I woke up and got into the car. I slept on the whole ride to Stanford, except waking up to take my medicine.

I remembered to grab the cards we made at the Pink Dot Club meeting (see September 18, 2018). After putting on my mask, we went to my appointment.

After my echo, which is an ultrasound (the ones the doctors use to take pictures of babies in their womb) of the heart, we were told to wait outside. After a room was available, we quickly went inside.

The doctor examined me and told me the results were good. My Prograf levels were good, and they didn’t change anything. I talked to the doctors about my leg pain. Last year, I was hospitalized for extreme calf pain. After being discharged from the hospital, I had to be homeschooled for a month before I was able to walk around my school again. My mom expressed concern about it being from my hypereosinophilic syndrome, a blood disorder I contracted leading to my heart failure. The doctors told us to book an appointment with the doctor that deals with my hypereosinophilic syndrome (see October 16, 2018).

After the appointment, we delivered the cards. We went to the Cardiovascular ICU (Intensive Care Unit is where patients are admitted when they have a serious illness that needs constant monitoring) and delivered as many cards as we could. We also saw Jessica (pseudonym) and delivered her card. We couldn’t say hi because she was too busy with her VR game. Nicole’s room was empty.

The rest of the cards we donated to the Family Resource Center. The Family Resource Center is a department in the hospital that allows patients to rent games, movies, books, or is a place for families to relax or get work done. It’s where I rented the Mission Impossible series, Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Avengers series, the Captain America series, Matilda, Tom and Jerry, and other movies.

Later that day I had a swimming lesson at 4:30. I’m still a beginner at swimming, but I know I have the ability to get better. After transplant, I can even be on my High School’s swim team! After swimming, we met up with Joanna and Andrew (see June 16, 2018) for ramen.

October 2, 2018

Today was the Pink Dot Club’s meeting. It was supposed to be dedicated to Nicole, but instead the club officers talked 90% of the time about a guy that got detention for criticizing his Honors English teacher.

Nicole was a beautiful girl that died at 10 (see September 20, 2018). For her entire 10 years, she has fought to be alive. Every year she had to be back in the hospital for another painful surgery. Club officers, do you even know, can you imagine, do you understand the pain? The pain that she and her family goes through? Her dad sold his restaurant chain to be with her daughter. Her mom always  with Nicole at her side. Her sister choose to stay with her instead of her grandparents. She said “I love Nicole, and I want to be with her.”

Club officers, that guy that got sent to detention because he confessed that he hated Ms. Hewitt or whatever has nothing to do with the club. Yet you spent more time on him than Nicole during the meeting that was supposed to be dedicated to her. Club officers, that guy is alive. He is breathing, he is eating, he isn’t in pain. Nicole is dead.

Club officers, I wonder how much you even care about your own club. Why are you officers of this club, when you can’t even dedicate a meeting without talking about your AP classes? Oh wait, I know! College! Club officers, you’re only here because you want to get into a good college. None of you care that a 10 year old girl is dead, you only care that it’ll look good on your college applications.

Nicole was in so much pain, she woke up screaming. She would curse and shout at the nurses until they put her back into a coma. Club officers, I hope that one day, you’ll realize how conceited you guys are. You guys do nothing to help those in the hospital. Oh my god “I made cards! I’m doing a dance vid for those in the hospital!” Except you’re doing that because you want to. None of you will actually go on a school day, skip your APs, and visit them in the hospital right?

October 2, 2018

I contacted Amy. (see August 24, 2018). It relates to my first day of school (August 13, 2018) question: How do I transition back to being normal?

Hi Amy, I am the 10th grader with the heart transplant.

I just wanted to ask you a personal question. How did you transition back into normal life after getting out of the hospital?

No one understands what I’ve been through. After I tell my classmates, all I get is “cool story” or “Wow! I didn’t know that” or “that’s awesome”.

I thought the Pink Dot Club (the transplant club at Foothill) would be different but it’s exactly the same. Even the club president cares more about her 4 AP classes than she does about the patients at Stanford and UCSF.

Sometimes I feel like I want to drop out of school. I don’t want to be surrounded by people talking about APs or Colleges or Test Answers or SATs. It makes me angry how everyone only cares about themselves: what grades they have, what classes they have, what friends they have!

Today, in the Pink Dot Club, we talked about a girl named Nicole who died waiting for a heart transplant. Except we talked about her for 1 minute. Only about half the club was listening. The next 20 minutes we talked about Honors English and the teacher for that class. Everyone was listening.

October 30, 2018

Today was another Pink Dot Club meeting. We made art kits for children at the UCSF Benioff hospital. Maddy brought plastic bags, brushes, mini canvases, and paints. We decorated the bags with stickers. The stickers said “You’re the best!” or “Love!” or “BFF”.

In my Biomedical Class we were talking about a project about how to introduce to a person they have a medical disease. If you’re reading this blog, then you’ve probably experienced this before. In reality a doctor just talks to you and says you have …. However, in our class we’re supposed to make an Instagram post or a song for the patients. Which is totally weird.

My teacher talked about his sister and mom going in for their breast cancer surgery. They met with a bunch of doctors and surgeons to remove the cancer. It was devastating for them.

I raised my hand to share my experience. Here’s my experience going in to be evaluated for the transplant list:

My mom told me I needed a heart transplant in the car. It was undoubtedly shocking. I couldn’t believe I was THAT sick. I wasn’t dying in a hospital, I was a normal person. My mom explained that she and Dr. Saba were talking about transplant for a couple of moths.

The official evaluation was at Stanford. I had to meet with a child psychologist, nutritionist, social worker, and doctors. The saddest part of the evaluation was the transplant education. Someone from the transplant team talked with me about what transplant was, how it works, waiting for transplant, and after transplant. I learned about rejection, the statuses, and my risk for cancer. The transplant education was so despairing that my heart started to act up. I never told her because I didn’t want to be deemed as not ready for transplant.

After the education I was rejected from the list. It was understandable; I was too healthy. A lot of the kids on the list need it more desperately than me. I was re evaluated for the transplant list on April 10, and they let me on as a status 2. The list has different statuses: 1A, 1B, and 2. 1A is the people that need it the most while 2 is the people that need it the least. Since Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital didn’t have a status 2 transplant for 4 years, I was on there for a taste of being on the list. It was highly unlikely I would get a heart.

2 weeks later I got the call.

November 15, 2018

The Pink Dot Club recently announced that the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital is asking for videos that their patients can watch. Since the patients are in the hospital, they want something to do.

I think that I can make a big impact by creating a video. If I share my story, those patients will know that they’re not alone. If I made it through this, then they can too.

I decided yesterday that the main theme of my video will be about “stories”. Today I asked my classmates to tell their own stories. I can edit all these stories into a video compilation, and it’ll basically send a message of “This will be you” (see November 25, 2018 for the video).

November 16, 2018

School was cancelled today due to the smoke. There’s a wildfire two hours away, and as a result our area’s air quality is horrible. Since my school is mainly outside, they don’t want the students contract lung problems (I doubt they will). Also, there was a petition online to close all of our schools today.

It gave me even more time to work on my UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital video (see November 15, 2018 for info)(see November 25, 2018 for videos).