Born with a congenital heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, 16-year-old Abby Farnsworth has lead a truly remarkable life. Before her fourth birthday, she went through three open heart surgeries. Then Abby’s parents were given the bleak news: their daughter needed a new heart to survive. The family had to uproot their lives in Kamloops and move to Toronto where they lived for nine months. Because of the support they received from their community, BC Transplant Society, Ronald McDonald House and David Foster Foundation, Abby’s family was able to stay together during the wait for a donor heart and post-transplant recovery.
Abby was too young to remember her life before transplant, “I don’t really know the difference between a ‘normal’ person and a transplant patient. I need to take medicine every day for the rest of my life. I do have to warm up and cool down when doing exercise, but otherwise I can do pretty much the same as my peers.”
Abby has a lot to be proud of – she has accomplished so much in her young life. One her greatest joys is being able to participate in the Transplant Games. She feels it is important for transplant patients to participate as the games are proof that organ donation works. Abby has competed in four Canadian Transplant Games and the 2017 World Transplant Games in Spain. In July 2018, the teen will get to compete right in her home province because the Canadian Transplant Games are coming to Vancouver.
In the meantime, Abby continues to have fun hanging out with friends, skate boarding and break dancing. But she always remembers she is lucky to be alive and wishes more people would register their decision to be an organ donor. She also has big hopes for the future of transplant, “I would also like more money to go towards research. I would like a simple blood test to check if my heart is okay, rather than having an invasive biopsy done in the cath(eter) lab. It would also be great if I didn’t have to take as much medicine as I do now.”
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