Rockland woman and double-transplant recipient celebrates 15-year anniversary of lifesaving gift

The 23-year-old was diagnosed with viral myocarditis 15-years ago in March 2009, and after weeks on life support, received the gift of life: a heart transplant from a family who lost their 4-year-old son.

Blaise Gomez

Mar 15, 2024, 8:39 PM

Updated 36 days ago

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A Rockland woman is celebrating a very special milestone this month, thanks to two lifesaving organ donations.
“I’m so amazed and grateful that I’ve made it to this point,” says Lauren Shields.
The 23-year-old was diagnosed with viral myocarditis 15-years ago in March 2009, and after weeks on life support, received the gift of life: a heart transplant from a family who lost their 4-year-old son.
“It was right before my seventh birthday,” says Lauren Shields. “I’m living because of their decision.”
Lauren’s mother, Jeanne Shields, documented their journey in photos of Lauren with medical staff and a journal that the mother and daughter often read.
“March 18, Lauren, around 3 p.m. I got the greatest news of all. Your new heart had been found,” reads one passage.
Lauren spent nine months in New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and was healthy until 2020, when the young woman was diagnosed with kidney disease and needed a second transplant. Her mother was a perfect match and donated one of her own kidneys to her daughter.
“Every day she’s an inspiration,” says Jeanne Shields.
Lauren helped pass Lauren’s Law in 2012 to get more people to register through DMV and now works as a community and government affairs liaison for LiveOnNY, the same organization that helped save her life.
It’s such a full circle moment,” says Lauren Shields. “After my transplant, it was really important for me to share my story. When I learned about the statistics in New York, and how we rant when it comes to registered donors, it was very disheartening.”
Shields shares her story to raise awareness to the need for others to consider giving the gift of life.
New York has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the nation even though people as young as 16 can register to donate with parental permission.
The mother-daughter duo says they next hope to someday speak to the family behind her special gift.
“I would like to say that Lauren, and everything she does, is a tribute to their child,” says Jeanne Shields. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
March is National Kidney month. For more information on organ donation visit https://www.liveonny.org.


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