What happened next would test even the strongest of people. Rekisha’s time at home was short lived as she slipped into severe heart failure and required an emergency left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pump, to support her heart function prior to having a future transplant. Following this surgery, Rekisha was required to move into the hospital until a transplant became available.
“I had two nurses assigned to be with me at all times,” she says. “I never even left the heart failure wing because it was too risky.”
Just 32 years old at the time, Rekisha had been away for the majority of her newborn son’s life, and had celebrated her other five children’s birthdays and her wedding anniversary in a hospital bed. Unsure of whether a donor heart would arrive in time, doctors warned her to get her affairs in order. Instead, Rekisha began planning her Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Just as she had known that something wasn’t right with her health before, she was now confident that she would be around to celebrate the holiday season with her family.
Once again, Rekisha’s instincts were right. The week before Christmas, she underwent a successful heart transplant.
Nearly a year later, Rekisha is back to taking care of her family, but has made significant changes to her lifestyle.
“My life is not “go, go, go” all the time like it was before,” she says. “I rest more, eat better and take some time for myself.”
Rekisha also takes time to educate other women about being their own health advocates.
“I think we all get used to doing too much and learning to ignore minor ailments or fatigue because that is what women are programmed to do,” she says. “I tell everyone I know to pay attention to any changes in your health and see as many doctors as necessary to be sure your voice is heard.”