A woman held her old heart in her hands while the new transplanted Heart was beating inside her!
Penny Smith holding her own heart. The photo became an Internet sensation when it was posted on the site Imgur with the caption: “This is my friend Penny. She is holding her own heart. She has survived cancer and crippling heart failure but never lost hope.”
She held her own heart in her hands, then became an Internet sensation, but Penny Smith of Lake Elsinore, Calif., is just happy to be alive — and overwhelmed by the attention a single photo of her has received.
The photo of a hospital-masked but clearly smiling Smith, cradling her first heart while the new one beats in her chest, was posted on social media site Imgur
by a nursing school friend, and immediately drew attention
Smith, 35, received her heart transplant
in September 2012. She had known for years that she might one day need one.
“I was 3 and a half when I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins T-cell lymphoma and I went into remission at age 6,” she told the Daily News
. “From there in 1994 I developed a heart problem
, which my mom knew about. (The doctors) had told her when I went through chemo that I would have it.”
Doctors monitored her condition closely over the years, but, Smith says, “I went downhill in 2007. I couldn’t breathe, I could barely walk.
“So they put me on more meds, and I ended up going into the hospital for my heart transplant.”
Doctors left her chest opened up initially, she said, because the donor heart was too big. “I was in there for four months (recovering),” she said. “I had two cardiac arrests.”
Smith doesn’t know her donor’s identity, just that he was a young male.
The amazing photo was taken months after the operation, in January.
“That was in the hospital in the pathology lab,” Smith said. “I was saying goodbye to my heart, actually, because I felt like it got me through half of my life and I needed to say goodbye to it. So I was saying goodbye, and getting to know my new heart.
“My doctors made me wait because they didn’t think I was ready. I wanted to be able to hold it, and they didn’t want me to drop it.
“I was happy to see it again-well, see it for the first time, I guess.
“My husband even got to hold it. It felt really weird for both of us, but it was amazing to get to hold something that was once in someone.”