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Renata I., born 1960. The insurance specialist from the canton of Zurich received a new heart in 2004.

“Eleven years ago, I was preparing myself for death. It had all started a few weeks previously with a cough, fatigue and water on the lungs. The doctors diagnosed it as heart failure that was easily treatable with tablets. But the medication had no effect. My heart just wouldn’t work any more. The situation was critical. The doctors operated and inserted an artificial heart that kept me alive from that moment onwards.

My partner and I prepared ourselves for the worst. We had already been together for eight years, and we didn’t want to miss the chance to seal our love officially. So we said our ‘I dos’ in the little berth in the intensive care unit.

After four and a half weeks on the waiting list, the doctors found a heart for me. I had mixed emotions: I was happy, but at the same time I was really scared I might never wake up from the anaesthesia. But I did wake up. The eight-hour operation had been a success. I had survived.

But despite all the joy, I couldn’t forget that on the same night a family had lost a loved one. I kept telling myself that this person hadn’t died because of me, but that it was only thanks to them that I’d survived. And to this day, I’m still very aware of the fact that the heart in my chest once belonged to somebody else. But I’m happy that it beats for me today.”

Source: Angela Lembo/Schweizer Familie magazine, September 2013