Lauren Marks may look like your average 30-year-old, but she isn’t.
While many people her age are running marathons, earning graduate degrees and climbing the corporate ladder, Lauren is waiting for a new heart.
At age 12 she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an incurable condition that restricts blood flow from the heart. Only a small fraction of people with this disease need a new heart and Lauren is one of them. For a while she was okay, but in her teen years the illness began to take a toll. Lauren was always an athlete, but her heart condition forced her to give up playing sports as her physical stamina weakened.
“My daily life has changed a lot since finding out I need a transplant,” she said. “I miss not having any boundaries. I don’t feel very well most of the time. I miss being like everybody else.”
In December 2016 Lauren was placed on the waiting list for a heart. Today, even the simplest task, like getting her 4-year-old daughter ready for school, can bring on chest pains and force her to stop what she’s doing and rest. Her disease has affected her whole family as they wait for the call that will change their lives.
“My daughter knows that I need a new heart and every time I get back from the doctor she runs up to me and says, ‘Mommy! Mommy! Did you get your new heart?’ and I have to tell her ‘No,'” Lauren said. “A new heart would mean new life. It would mean a life that I can spend with my loved ones.”
Lauren tries to keep her spirits up as she waits for a selfless organ donor to give her a new heart, but she dreams of the day she has enough energy to teach her daughter how to throw a softball or swing a tennis racket. Until then, she spends as much time with her family possible and makes sure her cell phone is always well charged and close by.
“The doctors tell me it could be tomorrow or it could be a couple of years,” she said. “I just hope it comes in time.”
To learn more about the power of organ donation or to register to become a lifesaving donor please visit LiveOnNY.org.