Heart/lungs transplant survivor marks 1 year

San Diego Union Tribune | Pam Kragen

Haylee Lindsey, center, and her mom, Lori Hiatt, check out the heart and lung themed cake that was there at the surprise one-year anniversary party on Wednesday for Haylee, 23, who a year ago received a new heart and lungs in a rare transplant surgery. About thirty members of her family and friends were on hand for the party. Photo by Don Boomer

Haylee Lindsey, 23, of Escondido spent half her life struggling to breathe; now she has full and active life

Escondido — On Wednesday morning, Escondido resident Haylee Lindsey rewarded herself with a “re-birthday” gift, a small black tattoo that starts with the spiky line of an erratic heartbeat, then a flatline adorned with a bow, followed by a smaller and “beautifully regular” heartbeat.

The tattoo was inked on Lindsey’s forearm at the same moment one year ago that she underwent a rare heart and double-lung transplant at UCLA Medical Center. Lindsey, who is 23, spent 143 days in the hospital awaiting donor organs for a surgery so rare that only about 25 are performed in the country each year. Of the 123,000 Americans on organ donor waiting lists, more than 7,600 die each year without getting the call.

At a surprise “transplantiversary” party Wednesday night at her family’s home, Lindsey said reaching the milestone is not just a celebration of her survival — it also marks the time doctors said she is now free to live a full life. The tattoo, which doctors made her wait for because it can carry a risk of infection, was the first item on her bucket list. Continue reading

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