Heart Transplant Survivors Celebrate, Honor Donors

Created: 02/14/2013 8:19 PM KSTP.com By: Scott Theisen

There's probably no better day than Valentine's Day to honor those who have shared their hearts in a most profound way.

Last year, Minnesota transplant centers performed a record number of heart transplants. Between Mayo Clinic, the U of M Medical Center, Fairview and Abbott Northwestern, 80 heart transplants were performed here in 2012.

Thursday, an event was held to celebrate that feat, but also to serve as a reminder that 154 other Minnesotans are waiting for a lifesaving heart transplant.

Among those attending, Kaiya Traynor, a rambunctious 20-month-old from the Twin Cities, was born with a heart defect that basically left her with half of a heart. She went through four open heart surgeries, but they didn't work so she was put on the wait list for a new heart. She got one about a year ago.

The selfless decision to be an organ donor also saved 51-year-old Michelle Hartse's life. She waited 8 weeks in the ICU before receiving her heart on June 4.

For information on how to become a donor, click here