Transplant Recipient - Tissue
For decades, Donna struggled with a heart defect that prevented her from doing anything active. “I always had to sit on the sidelines watching my friends do things so easily that were so challenging for me. It was always a big frustration,” she said.
She was kept waiting for a permanent solution for years. She struggled with even light physical activity, occasionally even passing out when she pushed herself past her body’s limits. Despite procedures to fix the problem, Donna and her doctors were waiting for the technology to advance for a transplant that would really make a difference in her quality of life.
Then, the technology finally came, as well as the donor heart valve she needed. Donna received a life-transforming heart valve from her donor, a 30-year old woman. She celebrated her 28th birthday in the hospital following her procedure and felt confident for the first time that the physical achievements she had always dreamed of might finally be within her reach.
It’s been sixteen years since then and there’s been no end to Donna’s aspirations. A few months after her transplant, she switched career paths to work in the fitness industry and help other people overcome their limitations. She completed marathons, triathlons, and countless other athletic achievements before discovering CrossFit for the first time. Now, she is the co-owner of Arenal Fitness, a CrossFit gym in Baltimore, and finds great pride in helping others to achieve their goals.
“It’s so amazing that through my own experiences I can relate to what [my clients] are going through and then try to help them overcome the fears that are holding them back. It’s so rewarding,” Donna said.
Donna honors her donor every day, not only by living her own life to the fullest, but by helping others do the same. “My donor has allowed me to live a life that I never knew that I could have; a life without restrictions,” she says. “It’s because of her that I can do all these things that I never thought were possible."