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Carolyn Adkins – Heart Recipient


I was diagnosed 15 years ago with cardiomyopathy.  Medication controlled it for a while.  I enjoyed life.  I was an instructor at the Y and taught Silver Sneakers classes.  I was also a decorator and while working on Christmas décor, I began feeling really tired.

They found out that only 25% of my heart was working.  I was at UK HealthCare and they put me on pacemaker.   I became extremely tired again, though.  I was really suffering.  So I went back and they gave me something that put the medicine directly into heart.  But this was only temporary.  I needed a heart transplant to ever have a life again.

That year, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

Then, I went back into the hospital.  They had to do a procedure where they put medicine directly into heart, but this time, I couldn’t go home.  You don’t come back out of hospital after that.  We didn’t know how long until I got my transplant, or if one would ever come.  I trusted my wonderful doctors – whatever they decided was best for me, I did.  I decided God was going to lead me in right direction.

After being in there for several weeks, they came into my room on Dec. 22 and asked, “Are you ready?”  Someone had said yes to donation.
I was going to receive the gift of life.
On Sunday morning , I got my new heart.  After my transplant, they had me sitting up that evening.  The next morning at 5am, I walked 2 laps around the nurse’s station

I was released from the hospital just one week later.

I was back in my home in Pikeville in 3 weeks.  I’ve got along fantastic.  I have a husband, daughter & son.  I have 4 grandsons.  I have my cousins, friends, and so much family.  I knew God had something else for me to do.  That was to do His work.

I want to help people understand how important it is to be an organ donor.

My donor helped 13 people that night.  My donor is the real hero.
I’m very thankful for them and pray for them.  They are indescribably wonderful.  They’re my heroes.  I have a wonderful life now – through God, through my donor family, through my doctors.

You read this sort of thing that happens to other people.  I’m just a regular person, but it happened to me and my family.

Just a couple months later, I finished my first decorating job.  I’m normal, what can I say!

Before my transplant, my family was on the same page with organ donation.  We supported it.  But this has given us a stronger desire to educate people and let them understand how important it is.

People can say my organs are bad – they don’t want them, but in reality, you never know.  Let the doctors decide.
People worry the doctors will let me die.  They won’t!  A life is a life.  Doctors work to save lives.

There are so many myths, but I am going to work to change these.  I’m here today thanks to the gift of organ donation.

– Story by Carolyn Adkins, Heart Recipient


Carolyn is pictured here (left) with daughter, Cynthia, at the Pikeville Rotary meeting to educate Pike County residents about the lifesaving mission of donation and encourage everyone to join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry to save lives.


A letter from Cynthia, Carolyn’s Daughter:

“How could I ever know how important organ donation is? How can anyone know how important organ donation is until someone tells them or they are faced with it?!
Organ donation became a wonderful life-saving reality for my mother, when on December 22, 2013, she received a donor heart. My mother’s heart failure/cardiomyopathy was a 15 year journey filled with a lot of ups & downs with decisions of medicines, hospital stays, and eventually the heart transplant waiting list, so when my mom received a donor heart, it was our miracle! My mother’s donor is our family’s hero and my mom & our family are eternally grateful!! How can we ever repay for such a wonderful gift? Our gratitude to my mom’s donor is immeasurable and we thank God!

When my mother became a heart transplant recipient, this felt like all of our family, church, friends and community were recipients too, because of the impact that we all have on one another. Mom has been an encouragement to all and everyone has been an encouragement to her. And all this from mom’s donor! I also shared my mom’s journey of getting a heart transplant on Facebook and I asked all of my family & friends on Facebook to pray for mom during the heart transplant surgery. So mom’s story was shared. I didn’t know until almost a year later but a Facebook family member’s brother, who lived in a neighboring state, received a diagnosis of cancer and later passed away but before his passing, he decided to become an organ donor and he decided to do this from reading about my mom’s journey of receiving her donor heart. And his sister told me that her brother’s eyes had given sight to two different people! And again to say, this all came about from my mother’s donor! So the impact of one person deciding to be an organ donor, saves lives but also affects families & communities, and continues to give & encourage! So you see how one person can help so many! And our family wants to continue to share our story and encourage people to make the decision to sign the registry to become an organ donor. It’s simple……go to or

One donor can potentially save up to 50 lives by organ, tissue, or cornea. The number of people in need of a lifesaving organ or tissue is on the increase. This organ donation need affected my family and it probably will affect your family or friends, too. Let’s all do something to help others!! Register to be an organ donor!  This is a decision that continues to give!”