Port Gibson woman receives new heart

Published 6:54 pm Monday, February 10, 2014

Cardiac patient and Port Gibson resident Sharon Mackey, 50, was handed a new lease on life when she received a heart transplant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The heart was a gift from an unnamed donor and the donor’s family. The procedure started late Friday, Jan. 31 and continued into Saturday morning.

Dr. Alan Simeone, who was one of Mackey’s physicians, said that she was diagnosed with nonischemic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which damage to the heart muscle is not associated with interruptions  to the heart’s blood supply.

Dr. Simeone said that the odds of Mackey surviving without the transplant were slim.

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“Probably the chances of her surviving for another 12 months without this transplant were in the range of 30 to 50 percent,” said Dr. Simeone.

Mackey described in a video recording during an interview at UMMC how severe her symptoms were before the procedure.

“My heart had gotten so weak,” said Mackey. “I had about 20 percent usage of my heart. It was enlarged and it was just bad. I couldn’t walk any distance without breathing heavy or having heart palpitations. I had to stop and rest. I couldn’t go shopping without taking a wheelchair with me. Everything was just thrown to the wind,” Mackey said.

When Mackey found out the severity of her heart problem, the news shocked her.

“It took me by surprise. I didn’t have any idea of the shape that it was in until things started to get really bad. My heart started swelling really bad, I couldn’t really walk or move around. I couldn’t breath or lay down at night. It all just came down on me at once. I had no idea what was going on.”

Now that Mackey has been given a new heart, she now understands the value of keeping it pumping strong.

“I’ve taken my heart for granted but that’s something that I will never do again. The heart is one of the most important organs that you can have. If I didn’t know that then, I know it now.”

Sharon’s 23-year-old daughter Ronneccia Mackey was thankful when she got word of her mother’s new heart.

“When she called and told me that they had found a heart and the surgery was going to take place, the only words I could say was oh my God,” said Ronneccia. “I was so happy, relieved and just thankful.”

In honor of National Wear Red Day, a day set aside to save lives and raise awareness of heart disease in women, Mackey was presented with a bright red blanket. The blanket was presented to her by her physicians Dr. Alan Simeone and Dr. Matthew deShazo. Mackey referred to her doctors as her “guardian angels.”