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A Thanksgiving message from transplant recipient: Thanks!
By Matt Stone

November 19, 2005

Thanksgiving may be synonymous with stuffing yourself with turkey and cranberry sauce until you burst, but its true meaning, giving thanks, has been lost to some.

This is not the case for Theresa Zamora, as she is thankful for her new heart. Subject of an earlier story in Wrangler News, Zamora has undergone nine surgeries since June 22, including a full-scale heart transplant on Sept. 19.

“The operation went real well. I haven’t had any problems with my new heart at all—yet,” Zamora said. “Knock on wood.”

Mother of three, Zamora has fought every step of the way, though she admits it would have been impossible without the aid of friends and family.

“I couldn’t have done it without them. My mom hasn’t left my side. My in-laws have been kind enough to stay with my kids the whole time. My husband has come out on most of the weekends.”

With only a biopsy (removing samples of tissue for analysis) in the way of Zamora going home for good, she is already making plans for Thanksgiving.

Barring any setbacks, she would be able to leave UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and return to her home in the Kyrene Corridor. Not out of the woods yet, Zamora would continue the healing process with the people she loves the most.

“It’ll probably take about a year to get back to 100 percent. I have to be very careful about being around crowds of people. I have to wear a mask in a public place, because your resistances are so low--have to be careful about getting sick. I can’t even get a flu shot,” she said.

With the worst over, the last thing to wait for is a complete recovery. The waiting itself has been the most tiring of things, explains Zamora’s husband Tom.

“The wait for the heart… the wait to get the body prepared to accept the heart. There’s just so many waits. The wait for the body to even be strong enough, the wait for her to get strong. It’s just—the wait. Just so many baby steps.”

While taking those baby steps, Tom has worked to preserve a sense of normality at home for the sake of their kids.

“I’m just trying to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. It has been tough but not as bad with the help from family and friends, no way I could’ve done it without [them],” Tom said.

With the community and family rallying around their situation, the Zamoras understand better than most the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Theresa and Tom both want to be sure to give thanks to everyone who helped them along this difficult road.

“I’m thankful for the family that donated the heart. My parents, the support they’ve given me. My in-laws, for being with my kids back home. I’m thankful for all the prayers in the community,” said Zamora.

“Thankful for the incredible medical teams at UCLA, for my employer, thankful for the wonderful insurance that I have,” added Tom.

This new mindset will not be a fleeting one for the Zamoras, especially not for her, Theresa says.

“Now I feel like I’m living not only for myself, but for the family that gave me the heart.”

“I really want to take advantage of everything life has to offer.”































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