Moving hearts on a knife's edge
While Jordan was fitted with a cardiac device to maintain the rhythm of her heart and was discharged, life had become very different.
“Everything had changed for me, my work life, my social life,” she says. “I’d usually come home from work and take the dogs for a walk, now I was sleeping downstairs because I couldn’t climb the stairs. I had to get mum to help me to wash my hair.”
Referred earlier this year to the Mater by her consultant Dr Peter Kearney for assessment for eligibility for transplant, around the same time her condition started to deteriorate. With her heart now working at only 16 per cent of its capacity, Jordan was put on the transplant list.
“I was terrified to be honest. I’d never thought about heart transplants before but I knew it was going to be a good thing and I could get my life back.”
While her family visited regularly from Cork, she describes the 10-week wait in hospital in which she had three offers of a heart as a time of emotional highs and lows.
Each time a heart became available, initial preparation for surgery would commence. On two occasions the heart was found to be the wrong match for Jordan. The third time, she was lucky.
She recalls waking up two days after surgery to feel relief. “I knew there was a long road ahead of me but I was delighted with the opportunity.”
Home in just over two weeks, she slept upstairs again for the first time in a long time.
“Now I’m able to go out and walk for up to an hour, I’ve been venturing out with my friends again and I have a lot more energy,” she says.
“I’m grateful to my donor and my donor’s family for the gift of life they’ve given me. Every morning I wake up, I think of them, I light a candle for my donor every week. Who knows what would have happened if a suitable donor didn’t come up?”
That Jordan’s own father died of cardiac arrest in 2011, while she was awaiting transplant, makes her all the more aware of heart health.
“It’s been a hard year and a half for everyone but it has all worked out in the end. Someone has been looking down on me.”