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Heart transplant patient: 'Life is a gift'


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - An eastern Kentucky woman tells us about her lifesaving heart transplant that came just in the nick of time.

We first told you about Ariana Sumner, 23, of Perry County last month. Earlier this year, she found out she had a serious heart condition the same day her daughter was stillborn.

The last time you saw Sumner, she was praying for a miracle a little more than two weeks ago from her hospital bed. She had just lost her newborn daughter and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is a life-threatening heart muscle disease.

"If I don't get a heart, I will die," said Ariana Sumner, two weeks ago from UK Hospital via Skype.

A miracle, blessing, or whatever you might call it saved her life. An organ donor, she and her boyfriend actually know, came to her rescue just in the nick of time.

"I just wanted to say thank you because without you, I would not be standing here," said Sumner. "I'm sorry for the family's loss. But his loss gave me life."

"From a 1,500 mile radius, we have a heart transplant," said Travis Sturgill, Sumner's boyfriend. "And it being someone so close to home, it was odd I guess. One for the record books!"

She walked out of the hospital three days ago and never looked back. Despite the soreness from the transplant, Sumner says she's feeling better than she has in nine months.

It's only been two weeks since her heart transplant at UK Hospital and already Sumner is making big plans for her future.

"I'm thinking about going to UK, but I want to live and enjoy life because I was sick for so long and now things are looking better," said Sumner.

With that transplant, Sumner says more than just her heart is different.

"I appreciate life and don't sweat the small stuff," said Sumner.

She's living proof that organ donors can save lives and says she's continuing to push the importance of becoming one.

"Life is a gift," said Sumner. "And I've been given this chance to live again."

Sumner and her boyfriend have moved to Lexington from Hazard to be closer to her doctors. She'll start therapy once she heals.


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