More than one in three women are living with some form of cardiovascular disease.
Last year, Local 4 brought you the story of Kristy Sidlar. She looked like the picture of health, but she was actually fighting for her life.
Sidlar was an athlete from a young age. When she was 31 years old, she collapsed during a bike ride and was diagnosed with a condition that left the right side of her heart unable to beat effectively.
After 20 years of living with limitations and five years in heart failure, Sidlar finally got the call she’d been waiting for. On March 11, 2021, Sidlar got a new heart.
“I was up and walking on day three. I was climbing the stairs on day four and I was out of the hospital in eight days, so I was way better than I could have ever expected,” Sidlar said.
Before the transplant, her heart was not pumping properly. She said her heart wasn’t working to get everything flowing through her organs.
“I would go on a couple mile, pretty slow walk, with my husband and have to stop probably six, seven times,” Sidlar said.
After the transplant, she was able to start running.
“Absolute tears of joy. And just this sense of, not only accomplishment, but I’ve been given this ability and this second chance to do something that I had been unable to do for two decades,” Sidlar said.
Sidlar ran a 5K on the six-month anniversary of her transplant. She is now training for a triathlon.
“I’ve now been given that back in my life and there is no way to say thank you for that,” Sidlar said.
She hasn’t yet had the chance to meet her donor’s family, but they are never far from her thoughts.
“I literally put my hand on my heart every day and give thanks and gratitude to that family,” Sidlar said. “I was given the gift by a 37-year-old woman. I don’t know her circumstances. I don’t know where she lives. Oddly enough, I really want to know her birthday. I really want to be able to honor her on that day, but I do honor her every day.”
Sidlar has written a book, sharing her story and the lessons she’s learned about health, wellness and overcoming life’s challenges.
“I like to say, ‘scars are stories.’ Scars have made me realize that what could be an ugly thing, really has an opportunity to be something much more positive. And if we can just take some of those stories and turn them upside down and let them give us hope for the future. I think that’s just something I’ve learned throughout this whole journey,” Sidlar said.
It’s a journey with a new road ahead.
“It’s an incredible second chance. We call me Kristy 2.0 and I’m living it every day,” Sidlar said.
Sidlar’s book is called “Change of Heart: My Journey of Transplantation, Revelation and Transformation.” It is set to be released on March 11, the one-year anniversary of her transplant. Click here to learn more about her book.