Woman in need of heart transplant: 'You can make a difference'

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - She says she won't survive without a new heart, and time is running out. That Perry County woman and her family say they have an important message for everyone.

She developed a heart condition, then lost her baby, and has been at UK Hospital for months. And she hopes her story will get more people to become organ donors.

Ariana Sumner, 23, has three things she wants to do but can't. She talked with us about her struggle from her hospital bed.

"I want to get a heart and go home and visit my daughter's grave," said Sumner.

Her life took a dramatic turn six months ago when her health declined, and she had to be induced with her baby, Baleigh Jayne.

"I lost my daughter," said Sumner. "And I almost died then."

That's because Sumner has a heart condition that she wasn't aware of until that February day. And a stroke just months later in April only made her situation worse.

"It doesn't seem real because seven months ago I was getting ready to have my baby, and I was fine," said Sumner.

Cardiomyopathy has taken over her life. Her heart muscle has weakened to the point of little to no function on its own. She's now hooked up to machines and waiting on a donor. Sumner hasn't left UK Hospital since April and won't until she gets a new heart.

"It is hitting me now that if I don't get a heart, I will die," said Sumner.

"We want to hurry and get her a heart, so we can take her home," said Willa Cody, who is Sumner's aunt.

This family is using their situation to show others how important being an organ donor can be.

"This young lady's heart may be the very next one that comes up and then again it may not," said Donna Slone, who works with the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates. "But we're doing everything we can, and we're asking people in the state of Kentucky to do everything they can."

For Sumner, it's a matter of life or death.

"You can make a difference in someone's life," said Sumner.

According to the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, more than 928 of the patients in need of a life-saving organ transplant live here in Kentucky. As of Friday, 68 Kentuckians are on the waiting list for a heart.

For information on organ donation, please visit the web address below, under related links.

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