Austin woman celebrates lifesaving heart transplant on Valentine's Day


    Valentine's Day is not just a day of love -- it's also National Donor Day. For one Austin woman, it's a day filled with gratitude. (CBS Austin)

    Valentine's Day is not just a day of love -- it's also National Donor Day. For one Austin woman, it's a day filled with gratitude.

    "This is my heart-iversary," says Sibyl McDade. February 14, 2019 is extra special after struggling with heart problems for most of her life. When McDade's congestive heart failure diagnosis worsened last year, doctors told her she only had one option.

    "For me it was a shock because I knew that I was having problems but you just don't think about a transplant," says McDade.

    She joined the waitlist for a new heart just weeks before Christmas in 2017. McDade knew it could take a while but she wasn't worried or in a hurry.

    "Because I also realized that someone would lose their life to give me life," she says.

    Two months later McDade received her heart on Valentine's Day. It was a happy coincidence on a day filled with love and candy hearts. But it wasn't lost on her how this miracle came to be.

    "You feel guilty that you are going to receive a very precious and lifesaving gift from someone who has lost their life," she says.

    February 14th is National Donor Day. Each year about 3,000 Americans receive organ donations but 25,000 people are eligible to give. Cardiologist Mary Beth Cishek at the Seton Heart Institute says whatever leads up to organ donation opportunities is catastrophic and painful for families, but organ donation has brought healing and closure.

    "Sometimes that's the only bright thing in an otherwise very dark part of these families lives," says Cishek. She emphasizes, it's critical to make sure your family knows your wishes.

    "Even if you've registered as a donor that doesn't automatically make you a donor. If the time comes, then the family gives consent," says Cishek.

    McDade's family has been on both sides of this lifesaving surgery after a family member recently passed away.

    "Even though it was sad for us, I think she lives on. She lives on in many other people," says McDade. She and her husband are registered to donate too-- should they ever be given the option to save a life.

    Register to be an organ donor by clicking here.

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