The thought of a child sitting in a hospital bed for weeks or months waiting on a heart transplant was almost too much for Karen Fields Isaacman. She thought kids don’t belong in a hospital bed. They should be playing outside, laughing with friends and enjoying meals around the kitchen table.
In 2013, Karen attended a fundraiser for Le Bonheur’s Heart Institute where physicians shared their vision for a world-class pediatric heart program. That night, Karen saw how she could be part of helping heal children. Doctors spoke about a device that is surgically implanted to keep the heart pumping while awaiting a new heart. Called a ventricular assist device (VAD, the mechanical pump is connected to a large machine that allows children to be mobile in the hospital.
“It was hard to imagine that a child had to be confined to their bed during such a hard time while waiting for heart transplant,” Karen said. “It was amazing to me that a mechanical heart could give a child mobility.”
Karen and her husband, Ken Isaacman, made a donation to the Heart Institute to support the purchase of VAD technology.
A few years later, Karen received the best gift – a thank you and hug from a teenager who is alive today because of the VAD. Tyler Smith shared his story at a fundraising event, and Karen was moved to tears.
“Tyler said he would not have made it… he would have died, if he did not have the VAD we donated. It was overly emotional for me to know that I had something to do with saving someone’s life,” Karen said.
Karen says she continues to support the Heart Institute and encourages others to do to the same because “there are more Tylers out there.”
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