BOSTON (CBS) — A Boston woman is waiting for a new heart this Valentine’s Day. But while her heart may be broken, she is living as though it is full.
Cindy Washington was 19 and a freshman at Northeastern University pursuing a pre-law degree when she became overwhelmingly tired.
“I started to lose my breath and to sweat a lot,” Cindy recalls.
After many trips to the ER, doctors finally figured out her heart was enlarged, weak and failing. In fact, Cindy’s heart was so sick she went into cardiac arrest twice, both times revived by her mom.
“She had to bring me to the floor and pump and revive me again the second time,” Cindy explains. “Both times my mom had to revive me.”
Cindy was placed on the heart transplant list but by 2016 things were looking dire. Her only hope was a special pump called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) attached to her heart to help circulate blood, a way to keep her alive until she gets a new one.
“I have so much more energy and so much more not only energy, but life,” says Cindy.
Now at 25, she’s living that life. She’s taking online college courses, still planning to go to law school and study health policy.
Her high school sweetheart and now fiancé, Darien Clark, hasn’t left her side. Nor has her mom to whom Cindy has this to say.
“Thank you so much for breathing life into me two more times because I really needed it. And look I’m here to bless you with my presence,” Cindy chuckles. “And I love you so much.”
While Cindy waits for a heart, her cardiologist, Dr. Michael Givertz at Brigham and Women’s Hospital like her chances.
“They’re very, very, very good,” Dr. Givertz says. “I mean she’s young and otherwise in excellent health and is being supported with a pump so we think she can wait for as long as she needs to until the best match becomes available,” he explains.
So on Valentine’s Day, when some might say she has a broken heart, she says not so.
“You don’t have a broken heart,” explains Cindy. “It’s just a little sick and you need extra loving care. There’s nothing wrong with a little sick heart,” she says smiling.
Dr. Givertz was so moved by Cindy’s spirit that he wrote her a letter of recommendation for a scholarship awarded to young adults with heart disease. In the letter, he says in part, “She is a fantastic patient and inspiration to others, both young and old, facing life-threatening heart disease.”
And that’s because while Cindy’s heart is a little sick, it’s still made of gold.