It’s not every day that you give someone your heart, and then immediately get a new one!
Kimberly Woods of Goshen, Indiana was just 12 years old when she was diagnosed with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease that causes the heart muscle to thicken. HCM is hereditary; Kimberly’s mother and brother also have it.
She was able to control her disease by limiting her activity and making other lifestyle modifications for years, but then she started noticing troubling symptoms.
“I still noticed arrhythmia just getting worse and just being tired a little bit more often,” she said. “Then I turned 20 and I noticed something wasn’t right.”
Kimberly’s doctors told her she was at risk of sudden cardiac death from arrhythmia or cardiomyopathy. The only cure is a heart transplant, just like her mother had 2 years ago.
“The world definitely just came crashing around us,” Kimberly said. The “us” she’s referring to is her fiance, Tony Woods. She told Tony things were “gonna get rough,” but he refused to leave her side. “That’s when we were like, ‘Let’s get married,'” Kimberly recalled.
At first, they weren’t in any rush to walk down the aisle, but six months after getting engaged Kimberly got a call that changed their timeline dramatically. They’d found the perfect heart for Kimberly, but she had to go into surgery that very day.
The couple quickly switched gears. They called up their closest friends and family and threw an impromptu wedding ceremony on the same day the bride was scheduled to have her heart transplant!
It was an informal affair. Kimberly wore a simple white dress, and Tony wore khaki shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Still, the day was filled with joyful anticipation, and not a little bit of worry. As soon as the ceremony was over they jumped in the car and drove four hours to Cleveland Clinic to get Kimberly prepped for surgery.
Tony was very nervous as he waited for his new bride to come out of surgery. He says he was most worried about losing her, and admitted no one could have made him leave the hospital if they’d tried.
“So the thing that was going through my mind is, ‘I’ve got to be drug out of here,'” he said. “‘There’s no way I’m just gonna walk out.'”
The surgery was a complete success! Kimberly’s doctors say she can now lead a normal life with no restrictions.
“If she takes care of it, and we take care of her, we hope for her to have a normal lifespan and a normal quality of life,” said Dr. Emanuel Finet, Kimberly’s cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic,
As for the newlyweds, the experience made their relationship stronger than ever! Kimberly says her new husband has never left her side as she recovers from her surgery, and she can’t wait to really start their lives together.
“He was there every day,” said the bride. “He’s literally the biggest cheerleader in my life.”
It may not have been your typical honeymoon, but it was the perfect one for this couple!
Share this story to wish Kimberly and Tony a lifetime of joy, success, and good health.
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