Hope for Heather

Quack, quack! Hey my doodles, please take a few minutes to read my UPDATES because soooo much has transpired over the past year.  I have truly been in the deepest, darkest valleys of my life, but I'm still here....still surviving.  I give God all the praise and glory because He is the reason I'm still here.

MY STORY:  At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease, Type I Juvenile Diabetes and life suddenly changed. I lived on the strictest of schedules, diets, finger sticks and injections. Growing up, I kept my diabetes under pretty good control, however, auto-immune diseases tend to attract other auto-immune diseases. When I hit my 20's, my health started to decline. My body took on several other auto-immune diseases and conditions, leading to the demise of my healthy living. My health continued to decline and in the past 10 years I've suffered from GI problems - keeping me malnourished and underweight, developed rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, a connective tissue disorder, have had four eye surgeries, spent numerous days in the hospital for dehydration, blood transfusions, anemia, pancreatic insufficiency, orthostatic hypotension and various life-threatening conditions. I've seen the inside of an ambulance and the ICU more than anyone should at my age. I'm 33, and due to taking medications to combat these health problems, one in particular worked against me thus causing my kidneys to shut down in 2012. I am now in end-stage renal failure and go to dialysis three times a week. My doctors at the University of North Carolina Hospital have told me that my only option now is a life-saving kidney/pancreas transplant.

Even with insurance, there are many expenses associated with a transplant that must be paid out of pocket. Some of these are co-pays, deductibles, living donor expenses and a life-time of anti-rejection medications. On average, first-year expenses for a transplant are more than $650,000. This is where your help is desperately needed. I'm currently on more than ten medications and have to take anywhere from 37-45 pills a day due to all of my health problems. After the transplant, there will be quite a few more medications, including anti-rejection drugs that I'll have to take daily for my body to sustain a new kidney. In order to ease the financial burden of uninsured costs, this campaign has been established and I hope you will consider a contribution.

Good days are far and few, and most of the time daily activites are a struggle. I battle nausea every day. My body stays weak and fatigued and I stay in bed the majority of the day. I've lost a lot of my life and I miss being able to do the things most people take for granted, such as shopping, traveling, or socializing with friends. Big accomplishments for me each day are as simple as getting out of bed or walking through my home without fainting. On a really good day, maybe my body will allow me a trip to the drug store or grocery store, but even if I'm able to do that, chances are great that I'll have to stop for numerous rest breaks. It takes a lot out of me, but some days I'm determined to get out of this house, besides just going to dialysis, the hospital or a doctor's office. My body has taken me hostage and has kept me imprisoned within the walls of my home. I used to take things day by day, but as my health keeps declining, I have to take things more like hour by hour.

My poor health created a major detour with my education and I'm looking forward to being able to go after my long term goal of a doctorate in pharmacology. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, but I know I can do this. As I like to say, "slow and steady wins the race." I like to stay positive and cheerful no matter what speed bumps I have to cross. I have to surround myself with things that make me happy. I love fun colorful things, anything whimsical, with sparkle and glitter; it brightens my day. When I'm feeling good, I love to sit and play in makeup - it's become a new hobby for me since it's something I can do while being at home.

I know I have a purpose on this planet and I am eager to get healthy enough to find and live out my purpose. My faith in God keeps me focused, as well as my relationships with each of you, my friends and family, my support system; you are the wind beneath my wings.

A new life will not be possible without the generosity of organ donors. It is with a humble heart that I ask of your benevolence to help make this life-saving transplant possible. I love life and I want to live.

With a heartfelt thank you,
Heather Blackburn

UPDATE:  2017
So much has transpired over the past year and without going into all of the ugly details, I'll give you the short & hopefully not so ugly story....... because of being on dialysis for so long, in combination with other health issues, I've developed circulation problems (hardening of arteries/calcification)and the blood to my extremeties has been limited at times, however, I've undergone several procedures to correct this and I'm seeing much improvement, but an incredible amount of damage has already occurred.  During the time my extremities were struggling with blood flow, tissue began to die.  I have now had a below the knee amputation  on my right leg, my left foot is fighting to heal and my fingers are in the dying/self-amputation stage.  I need so many things to help me navigate my daily living, but I really need a special power chair and I need fingers!  Prosthetic fingers can be approximately $6,000-$10,000 each and the power chair that I need can easily cost $30K & up. Any amount you can give is awesome & so kind of you & I am so appreciative!  If you're not able to help me financially, please share my story and keep me in your prayers. I am in so much constant pain and your prayers would mean the world to me.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!  Heather B.

JULY UPDATE:
Another surgery.  Well, my surviving foot did not progress as well as we all were anticipating and all 5 of my toes had to be removed.  The surgeon did an awesome job at preserving as much of my foot as possible, but all my piggies went to market & didn't come home.

February 2018 Update:
The toes on my left foot were removed last July and a pressure wound had occured on my heel, so a heel graft was necessary. Well, the healing process started off well, but slowly began to decline.  A wound vac was used, but the healing was still slow and an infection occured.  By December, some areas were better, but there was one particular spot that refused to close.  My vascular doctor performed an angiogram and found that I had one artery 100% blocked and two arteries partially blocked.  Holy moly!  Well, he worked his magic and my foot took off.....getting blood circulation into my foot has been amazing!  Thank you Jesus!  

So, here I am again...I have a pressure wound on the backside of my right knee where my prosthesis has rubbed.  It is not healing and in fact has deteriorated pretty quickly to the point of tendon showing AND AGAIN, infection is present.  I am scheduled for another angiogram procedure on 2/13.  Please pray for my doctor, medical team and me, please.

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Organizer

Heather Blackburn 
Organizer
Mebane, NC
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