CRANFORD - This is a remarkable time for Cranford's Emma Rothman as she will celebrate the 10th anniversary of her life-saving heart transplant on April 1. She is humble and always thankful for her donor who gave her the gift of life and made her achievements possible.
“Everything after my heart transplant was working towards moments like this,” said Rothman. “It motivates me to appreciate the day to day – being able to travel, go away to school, and have life experiences without my health dictating what I can and cannot do is a blessing. I owe all of this to my organ donor’s act of extraordinary humanity.”
Rothman is also just weeks away from graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in Food Studies. Like most college graduates, she has mixed emotions about taking the next step in her life’s journey.
“I am definitely a bit terrified, but I am excited about the variety of opportunities that lie ahead,” said Rothman.
In March 2011, Rothman was 12-years-old when she suddenly began to feel extremely fatigued and could not make it through an entire day at school. Her parents brought her to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC) for what was supposed to be a quick, routine blood test. However, she went into cardiac arrest, was put on life-support under an induced coma and was rushed to the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
Rothman, who showed no prior symptoms, was somehow battling end-stage heart failure brought on by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. On April 1, 2011, she, underwent a successful emergency heart transplant, which saved her life. Just 15 days later, she was discharged, taking with her new knowledge about what a heart transplant is and how she could best care for her new heart at home.
“The last thing I remember was feeling uncomfortable while the nurses were attempting to draw blood at the hospital thinking I might have had mono or a virus,” said Rothman. “I woke up six days later and learned that I had a heart transplant. Prior to that, I had never heard of organ and tissue donation or transplantation.”
In 2013, Rothman and her family, guided by their firsthand experience, established Hearts for Emma, a 501 (c)3 organization that provides assistance to families of children with heart disease, and supports educational initiatives related to heart transplantation and promotes awareness of organ and tissue donation.
As part of a joint outreach effort, Hearts for Emma established a Partner Fund within the NJ Sharing Network Foundation that has raised more than $50,000 since its inception. The Hearts for Emma Partner Fund has helped educate more than 100,000 students in New Jersey about organ and tissue donation and transplantation through the production and distribution of education materials and related programs, and provides scholarships to high school seniors who are advocates of or personally impacted by the mission.
In New Jersey, there are nearly 4,000 residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant, and one person in New Jersey dies every three days waiting for a transplant. Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people. Transplantable organs include heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and intestine. Transplantable tissue includes corneas, heart valves, skin grafts, and bone grafts, ligament and tendons.
To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is courtesy of NJ Sharing Network.