Transplants bring charity

Her heart raced faster and faster. She did not know if she would survive or even be okay. Her life was literally on the line.
Three local girls have had some type of transplant.
Teacher Sharon Edwards’ daughter, Sheri Orr, had a cornea transplant. Orr is a married woman and lives in a town near Stillwater. She had the disease keratoconus, which causes the cornea to be cone-shaped.
“When they tell you that your child has this disease and that they will someday have surgery, you just can’t take it in,” Edwards said.
Orr wore hard contacts for years to flatten it out, but eventually the contacts scraped her cornea. She couldn’t see so she had the transplant. Now, she might have to have another cornea transplant on her other eye in the future.
Another student underwent a kidney transplant when she was 12 years old.
“When I was nine I went to the doctor because I had a stomach virus,” freshman Jordan Stewart said.
They were not too worried about it until she was diagnosed with Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP), a disease that causes small blood vessels to become inflamed and leak. Usually, people get this disease from an upper respiratory infection.
“The chances are one in a million for a boy to get it and one in a billion for a girl to get it,” Stewart said.
Stewart was on a specific diet for six months until she had her kidney transplant. She got her kidney from a four-year-old boy who had died in a car crash on July 6, 2009. His parents had donated all of his vital organs; she got his kidney.
But the transplants for nearby girls don’t end here.
When she was born, senior Autumn Fitzgerald had jaundice. This is simply a term used for a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes caused by different liver malfunctions. It is not uncommon and easily treated.
“They [the doctors] found out I had HLHS – Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome,” Fitzgerald said. “They said the left side of my heart couldn’t pump blood to my lungs.”
Fitzgerald’s mom had three options for her very young daughter: She could take her daughter home for the time she had left of her life, let her child have a series of seven different surgeries, or she could put her daughter on the waiting list for a heart. She chose the third option.
“On July 3, 1994 I received my new heart,” Fitzgerald said. “I was only five weeks old.”
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute about 88 percent of patients survive the first year after transplant surgery, and 75 percent survive for five years. The 10-year survival rate is about 56 percent.
These girls have been through a lot. Edwards basically described it all in one word: “Terrifying.”
Some may still be recovering.
“My immune system finds my heart as a foreign object,” Fitzgerald said.
She has to take immunosuppressants, which lower her immune system, so that it won’t attack her heart.
These girls have been through experiences that have changed their lives.
“It was really hard to cope and everything,” Stewart said.