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Given a new heart to live

March 1, 2013

Rachel Doseck

One young woman spent her 21st birthday — not celebrating with friends and family — in a hospital waiting on a heart transplant.

Botkins resident Rachel Doseck recently underwent a second heart transplant in January — and is now on the road to recovery.

Doseck had to be rushed to the Cleveland Clinic at the beginning of January after she became ill, and then she had to stay there more than a month after she received a heart transplant.

“I’m doing fine,” the daughter of Teresa and John Doseck said. “I just got home.”

Doseck returned home on Feb. 21, after recovering from her second heart transplant.

Doseck said the experience was different this time around. When she was 10-years-old, she received her first heart transplant, a procedure done all in a children’s hospital.

“It was just different,” Doseck said. “For my first transplant, I was in a pediatric hospital, and now I was in an adult hospital, and they do the procedure differently. For this one, I feel a lot sicker.”

During her first heart transplant in 2002, she was able to walk around at the hospital after the operation. After this one, she was on strict bed rest and that included not being able to walk around while at the hospital.

“For the first transplant, it seemed like I just bounced back,” Doseck said. “The doctor said I am doing remarkable though because I got to go home after a month.”

Doseck spent her 21st birthday, which was on Jan. 13, in the Intensive Care Unit at the Cleveland Clinic, waiting on a new heart.

“I knew my health was deteriorating,” Doseck said.

Doseck’s heart was only working at 20 percent at that time.

“They came in and told me to consider making plans for a funeral,” Doseck said. “I was really close to dying.”

She shared if she did not receive a heart transplant by the weekend of Jan. 19, she would have to be placed on life support.

But shortly after she celebrated her birthday, she received good news as surgeons transplanted a new heart into her body on Jan. 19.

Now as she has been home for a little more than a week, Doseck will be getting ready to make the trip back to the Cleveland Clinic to have a biopsy done.

“I have biopsies every two weeks,” Doseck said. “I have a lot more visits.”

She has frequent biopsies to make the sure the body does not reject the new heart. In upcoming months, she will have to go back to the clinic less often to have biopsies done.

Doseck noted that during the first year after her heart transplant, physicians will be watching her closely.

She noticed that her immune system is weaker, and when she gets something, like the common cold, it is harder to recover.

Doseck is quick to point out that she is living proof of why organ donation is important for people to consider doing.

“It’s pretty simple,” Doseck said, “because it does saves lives. I’m living proof with my first and second heart transplants.”

Life Connections of Ohio (LCO) serves the vital link between organ donors and transplant recipients, and in 2012, LCO coordinated the recovery of organs from 44 donors, providing 147 life-saving organ transplants.

According to LCO, there are a total of 116,919 patients in the U.S. waiting for some kind of transplant, including kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lung and intestine, with 3,438 of those patients living in Ohio.

LCO reports 18 men, women and children die each day because the need for organs far outweighs the supply, and in the last 10 years, more than 2,000 Ohioans died waiting for an organ transplant.

One person can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of 50 more through tissue donation.

Currently, Doseck is getting adjusted to being back home, and catching up with family and friends. Prior to her heart transplant, she was taking classes at Wright State University.

Doseck is working toward a degree in communications and said she wants to work with Life Connections and help to get the word out for awareness of organ donation.

“I’m hoping to continue in the future,” Doseck said.

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