Benefit dinner slated for heart transplant patient

Duane Hicks

A benefit spaghetti supper for Samantha Pearson, a young woman who received a heart transplant in Ottawa last month, is planned for Thursday, Dec. 8 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Fort High cafeteria.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children aged seven and under.
Take-out orders also will be available.
Pearson’s mother, Ellen Gagné, said yesterday that her 25-year-old daughter successfully underwent a heart transplant on Oct. 22 but remains at the Ottawa Heart Institute for testing.
Specialists tested her former heart, and determined Pearson had giant cell myocarditis—an extremely rare disease that only seems to attack young, healthy people, Gagné noted.
“They don’t know yet what caused it,” she said. “They don’t usually find out what the cause is but because it’s so rare and serious, the only outcome is death or a transplant.
“In 25 percent of cases, it comes back,” Gagné added. “But when it does, it’s milder so they can treat it more with drugs.
“So what we’re up against right now is we’re hoping there’s no rejection of her new heart.
“She is plugging away, doing amazingly well with her attitude, and doing everything she can to get better.
“We’re hoping she can come home for a week at Christmas,” said Gagné. “She’ll be in Ottawa for about three months.
“Because of how ill she was, they have to do a biopsy once a week for the first month, and then every two weeks the second month. . . .
“We’re hoping for her to come home for February, maybe mid-February.”
Pearson’s mother said the benefit supper will help in several ways.
“It will help Samantha fly home for Christmas,” Gagné explained. “It will help her pay for her stay in Ottawa while she’s there for the next two-three months.
“And it will also help if something happens and the family has to fly down.
“It’s really hard to leave her there,” Gagné admitted. “We were just down for three weeks, and her sister was with her for a month, with her little baby.
“She’s got a few people that come there, but it’s nothing like family.
“We’re just hoping we can help her with the expenses that way.”
Pearson has a dear friend, Miranda Miller, who she can stay with while she’s down there but she still has expenses, noted Gagné.
She said the family is very thankful and feels blessed that her daughter received the heart transplant right when she needed it.
“Just to see that new heart beating in her the next day was amazing,” Gagné recalled. “She got a bit of an infection that first week, and nobody could get too close to her without a gown and gloves and a mask, but she came out that.
“She’s a toughie.”