February is American Heart Month and I want to share a special firsthand account as a parent of a very young donor recipient. My little girl’s whose life was forever changed thanks to a heartfelt donation.

“I am writing to share the story of my daughter Eleanor, who is alive today because of an organ donor.She was born with multiple congenital heart defects. A team of doctors determined that her only option was a heart transplant. At 10 days old, Eleanor’s name was added to the national waiting list. After a 2-month wait, when she was 10 weeks old, she received her life saving heart transplant, and we are immensely grateful for every day since.

Eleanor is fortunate to have encountered minimal complications post-transplant, and now at 8 years old is a thriving, happy ray of light to everyone. Healthy, active and full of energy, a constant reminder of how far she’s come. Looking at her it’s almost hard to believe the tough times she’s been through. We are so proud of Eleanor’s courage and resilience. We love her enthusiasm, her creativity, her imagination, she has the best laugh, she gives the best hugs, she just makes everyone smile. Her favorite phrase is “BEST DAY EVER!”Last fall we celebrated her first day of 2nd grade, another milestone made possible by her donor.  She is an incredible success story, living life in honor of her donor.

The donor family selflessly said yes to organ donation. Their yes kept our family whole and allowed Eleanor to receive the ultimate gift: a perfectly matched heart and a second chance at a full life. When she was born we didn’t know how much time we would have with her. Because our donor family made the decision to donate life, we got to keep her. Every day is bonus time. Her survival was dependent upon the kindness of strangers. Organ donation is the ultimate act of kindness.

There are currently over 114,000 men, women and children nationwide waiting for lifesaving transplants.I hope and pray my message inspires others to pay it forward in the biggest way possible, because tomorrow is never promised. Regardless of age or medical background, you have the power to save lives. Please register to become and organ/tissue donor and make your wishes known to your loved ones at RegisterMe.org or at your local Circuit Court Clerk’s office.”

Lindsey Westenhofer
Eleanor’s Mother
Louisville, KY (Jefferson)