Woman Who Refused Abortion Receives Life-Saving Heart Transplant

A Tennessee woman who refused to abort her unborn child after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition has undergone a successful heart transplant.

LifeNews.com is reporting that Miracle McIntosh, 32, the mother of now three year-old Zoei, was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy in 2008 while pregnant with her daughter. The condition is sometimes discovered toward the end of a pregnancy and involves a deterioration of cardiac function that leaves the heart muscle unable to contract forcefully enough to pump blood through the body. It often leads to congestive heart failure and even sudden cardiac death.

When doctors suggested she abort her unborn baby, Miracle refused.

“I felt like God didn’t bless me with a baby to abort her,” she told the Chattanooga Times Free Press newspaper.

Three years later, and after enduring constant medical treatment and a rapidly deteriorating physical condition, Miracle received a heart transplant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The procedure took 13 hours, but the hardship was worth it, she said.

“I am so blessed and grateful that I’m able to be here,” she said.  “This has made me a better mom, a better person and my faith is just stronger.”

Miracle’s mother, Patricia McIntosh, said she can’t stop thanking God for her daughter’s life.

“Blessed and highly favored,” Patricia McIntosh told the paper. “I don’t mean to get religion on you, but that’s just how I feel. God has been good to us.”

It will be Patricia’s job to care Miracle’s two children as her daughter continues to receive medical care which will require her to return to Vanderbilt every two weeks for doctors to check on her progress with her new heart. Eventually, if all goes well, the visits will be reduced to once a month.

She has come a long way since delivering Zoei three years ago, with her heart badly weakened by the pregnancy. She spent the last three years traveling between her home in Chattanooga to the University of Alabama Hospital (UAB) in Birmingham and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, who she claims “kept her alive”.

However, by December 2010, her health had deteriorated to such an extent that doctors no longer expected her to live. Doctors at UAB Hospital bought her time by installing a mechanical heart pump, but it was still a rough year. 

“I couldn’t walk from my room to the front door,” she said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

A week before Thanksgiving, she got a call from Vanderbilt, telling her that they had found a matching heart.

Miracle had to give up her job at UPS because of her disability, but is now planning to enroll in nursing school to be an advocate for organ donation.

“Even I wasn’t an organ donor before I got sick, not that I’m selfish. I just didn’t think about it,” she said, but feels much differently now after the life-saving surgery. “”You have babies who need organs and they’re dying . . . you can save so many lives with one person.”

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Photo of Miracle and Zoei is by Angela Lewis for the Chattanooga Times Free Press

STUDY QUESTIONS:

1.  What is the Church’s position on organ transplantation? (See No. 2296 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

2.  What conditions make organ transplantation unacceptable? (See No. 2296 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

3.  How does organ donation nurture the culture of life? (See No. 86 is the Gospel of Life)

4.  One of the Church’s greatest concerns in the area of organ transplantation is the possibility of the hastening of death in order to acquire organs. For a better understanding of the criteria approved by the Church for determining death, see this article by Dr. John Haas, the head of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

5.  For additional reading, this article provides a thorough overview of Church teaching on various aspects and kinds of organ transplantation from both the donor and recipient point-of-view.

6.  What are your personal views about organ donation? Have you or your loved ones ever had any personal experience with organ donation? Was it a positive or negative experience? Has this study changed your view of organ donation in any way?

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