Thursday, 28th September 2023

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“When I look at him, my heart skips a beat” A man and woman who received a heart transplant become husband and wife

Two people who met through the commonality of having undergone heart transplant surgery have tied the knot in a heart-warming love story메이저사이트.

Ham Eun-ji, 28, who underwent a heart transplant for dilated cardiomyopathy at the age of 13, and Choi Jae-won, 34, who underwent a heart transplant for cardiac hypertrophy two years ago, are getting married on the 11th, according to Seoul Asan Medical Center on Friday.

Ham was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, at the age of three and was declared cured by the time she was in elementary school, but she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy again at the age of 13.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a rare and incurable condition that affects about 1 in 100,000 children in which the heart muscle fails to expand and contract, causing heart failure and arrhythmias.

Unable to function without cardioversion, a drug that strengthens the heartbeat, he needed a heart transplant, and miraculously, a heart donated by a brain-dead child was available within a month.

However, Ham’s long battle with cancer had already strained his family’s finances, and the tens of millions of won for the operation was not easy to come by.

That’s when Yoo Mi Lim, a professor of nursing at Dankook University, who was a nurse at the Congenital Heart Disease Centre at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, lent a helping hand.

“I’ll be your aunt,” she told Ham, and with the help of the Asan Social Welfare Foundation, the Korean Heart Foundation, and Ham’s elementary school and neighbouring school, she was able to raise the money for the surgery.

At just 13 years old, Ham could have been terrified ahead of the major surgery, but instead, she was a spirited girl who walked into the operating theatre shouting “Fighting” to comfort her father, who was worried about her.

He underwent a successful surgery under the guidance of Dr Yoon Tae-jin, a professor of paediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Seoul Asan Medical Center, and once he had recovered, he continued to practice aikido to improve his physical fitness.

He also helped patients with heart disease by sharing his knowledge and experience, regularly visiting online cafes frequented by patients and answering their questions in detail.

It was at this café that Ham and her husband-to-be met.

Choi, who had an enlarged heart and was on a ventilator and left ventricular assist device while waiting for a heart transplant, was so grateful for Ham’s generous advice that he offered to buy her a meal, and the two became lovers.

Now, the soon-to-be husband and wife have been each other’s biggest supporters, keeping an eye on each other’s health and visiting hospitals together.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for patients, especially women, to talk about marriage,” Ham told Yonhap, adding, “I want to show that I, who is 17 years into my heart transplant, am living a healthy life by getting married and having a family like everyone else.”

He also joined the organ donor pledge in 2021. “I, who had difficulty even breathing, am miraculously living a second life through the noble sharing of life by a donor,” said Mr Ham. “I want to transform someone’s desperation into dreams and hopes through donation.”

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