BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — There are over 100,000 people on the national waiting list for organ transplants. Cheyenne Louden was one of them until she received a heart transplant with the help of JJ's Legacy.
“My doctor came in and was like, ‘Let's get ready. We're going to have these babies. You have fluid around your heart and lungs, and if I don’t get it out now, you might not make it.”
Louden gave birth to twins on August 13, 2019. Six months later, she was back in this hospital, this time for a heart transplant.
“But when I was told that like, I need it right now and I might not make it to be with my kids, that's when I finally broke down. Like that's when everybody seen my first tear.”
Louden couldn’t even hold her twin boys before her heart transplant but was up and walking not long after the surgery.
“The doctors kept telling me like you're doing very good. Like, you're like one of our first patients that like had a surgery and you're ready to walk."
Organ transplants can be successful no matter who gives or who gets the donation. However, donors with a similar genetic background to the receivers have an increased chance of longer-term survival.
That's why JJ's Legacy is encouraging donations within communities of color. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data, California has nearly 21,000 people on its waiting list for an organ transplant. Over half of them are people of color.
Louden says she would thank her organ donor and encourage others to become a donor.
“You're saving another person's life and that's amazing.”
JJ's Legacy not only helps those receiving an organ but also organ donors. JJ's Legacy works with Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry, which connects with local farming partners, butches, and churches, among others, to provide a monthly subscription for a fresh food box. They say good health and nutrition are important for those who are on the transplant list or those preparing for a transplant.
They also offer financial support in the form of grants for those in Kern who are waiting for a transplant or transplant recipients. Those grants can help cover things like doctor visits, lab work, and prescription medicine.
For more information on JJ's Legacy visit their website jjslegacy.org