"I have a heart."
Those calm words from a dying Kaysville woman eased the worst fears of a Utah family Thursday.After hanging on for a week to a thin thread of life in the coronary intensive care unit at the University of Utah Hospital, 29-year-old Kally Heslop was notified Thursday that a donor heart had become available. The new heart - a gift from a young Las Vegas trauma victim - will replace Heslop's heart, which has been irreversibly damaged by two heart attacks.
It is her only chance for survival.
"I was dumbfounded," Judy Scadlock said of her daughter's 2 a.m. call. "It's bittersweet because we will benefit from someone else's tragedy. That family is probably comforted knowing their loved one helped so many others."
Scadlock was among a dozen family members, including in-laws Royden and Ramona Heslop, who camped out at the U. Hospital awaiting the arrival of the life-saving organ. She said her daughter, who was visited throughout the morning by the entire family, was confident everything would be fine.
"She is calm and peaceful. `Let's get it done' is what she said," Scadlock said.
But the local surgery was postponed - hour by hour - while transplant teams from around the United States flew to Las Vegas to harvest other organs - kidneys, corneas, skin, pancreas and liver - from the trauma victim. The liver is being transported to LDS Hospital for another Utahn.
By dying, a Las Vegas citizen likely saved more than one Utahn's life.
The tragic chain of events came none too soon for Kally Heslop. Earlier in the week, she believed that time was running out.
"A few days ago she said, `Dad, I don't think I am going to make it. Please make sure my kids are taken care of _ and take care of Mark," said her father, Arlen Scadlock.
When Heslop's kidneys and liver began to fail on Monday, U. specialists discussed the option of implanting an artificial device. Although human implantation of the Utah 100, a pneumatically driven artificial heart, has not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, the patient had readily agreed to be a recipient until a transplant could be found.
Like Heslop's children and husband, Mark, the grandparents prayed for a miracle. Miquel, 9; Tyler, 7; Cassidy, 3; and Lindsey Kay, 6 months, they say, desperately miss their mother.
Heslop's case is different from those of patients who have received 209 transplants through UTAH Cardiac since March 1985.
She had been a strong, active young woman _ an avid swimmer, cheerleading coordinator, an all-around athlete.
Even the notion of heart problems was foreign to her. She had no prior history of coronary artery disease, no risk factors. All of her pregnancies and deliveries had been normal.
Yet, signs of heart problems emerged following the birth of Lindsey Kay six months ago. Heslop, traveling with her parents, suffered her first heart attack in a St. George motel.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, Scadlock explained, sometimes cause the artery going into the heart to thin out. Heslop's tore _ then collapsed, cutting off essential supply of blood to the heart.
Nationally, there have been only nine known such cases; most were discovered after death.
Despite a second heart attack in August, Heslop seemed to be on a long road to recovery. Bouts with poor health last month, however, escalated her deterioration.
This week U. physicians confirmed the family's fears. Heslop needed a heart. She needed it urgently.
"We've been on a rollercoaster since August. But you do what you have to do," her husband, Mark, said.