When first meeting Evie, you can’t help but notice her warm smile, willingness to help others, and overall exuberance for life. You would never guess from her very humble beginnings.
Evie has been dealing with CHD (Congenital Heart Disease) since she was in her early
teens. Diagnosed with Sinus Valsalva aneurysm*1 and requiring emergency surgery to
replace her aortic arch at 14 was just the beginning. She left home with the help of her
school and social work around the same time for her own well-being. Then she survived a
stroke and was also diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome at age 21. Despite all of this, she still
graduated high school and then college. She went on to lead a very active and normal life.
She was employed as her alma madder’s team manager of both the men’s and women’s
basketball team. Evie went on to hike Lassen Peak, which is a 5-mile hike with an elevation
of 10,463 feet at its peak. Surely a feat for even most heart healthy individuals.
She worked and lived life to its fullest until 1999, when her health problems forced her to slow down. She noticed being incredibly tired and short of breath. Her cardiologist, Dr. Gene Shafton, encouraged her to life her life until things got too bad. He then helped her find a center that would help list her for transplant. She was accepted as an excellent candidate not just for her underlying condition, but for her positive attitude that we all know and appreciate so much. They listed her as a heart candidate even though she didn’t have a designated caregiver which was a requirement of this and many other programs. She remembers the amazing support of her transplant team. Her favorite nurse was Patty Baker, who was always upbeat and would quiz Evie on her medications, dosing, and side effects.
April 16th, 2001, she got the call. When coming out of sedation, she remembered her last dream being of skiing down a mountain. This is surreal considering her donor, Amber, was teaching her siblings to ski when she got in her accident. She doesn’t remember any pain, just an overwhelming sense of appreciation of her new normal. There were no more PVCs *2 and she felt the normal circulation in every part of her body for the first time. Since that day she doesn’t take a moment for granted. She is always grateful for Amber’s family and their honoring her wish to donate.
Evie has battled her worst fear, which is rejection and come out as strong as ever. Now that she has is with the love of her life, Danny, she can care for others in the form of volunteering or advocacy. She gives advice to those younger and dealing with CHD to tell your family when you feel something is wrong and don’t try to hide it. The quicker they can get to a problem the quicker your heart failure team can help you. And to adults she advises to always be your own advocate, get a second opinion if necessary, know your history, and always take notes.
Today Evie’s favorite things to do are to volunteer for the Transplant Community Alliance or the Transplant Games. She loved helping athletes of all ages in the recent inaugural Arizona
Transplant Games. This makes sense since she has always been a helper to many from her
managing days at college all the way to this very day helping transplant athletes. Evie, finds joy in everything, even falling recently while gardening. Those aches and pains reminded her that she was so fortunate to be where she is today, alive and growing older every day.
Evie, you are always an inspiration to us all!