ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — (WKRG) — “Elyssa was amazing, a special girl, heaven-sent”, said Edie Jacobs.
At 15 months old, her healthy baby girl became very sick.
“She contracted a virus, we don’t know how and the virus slowly destroyed her heart”.
Doctors didn’t expect her to survive, but they managed to stabilize her so she could receive a heart from a little boy named Ian.
“She called her scar her zipper. She knew and when she told the story, she said that Ian went to heaven and dropped his heart on the way and through the zipper they gave it to her.”
Even with the transplant, she wasn’t expected to live past the age of 7. However, she danced, graduated from high school, and went to college as her body continued to reject her donor heart.
She died at age 21, Ian’s Heart added 19 years to her life.
Her parents are grateful for the time they had with her, “It’s immeasurable”, said her father, Jeff Jacobs.
The Jacobs show their gratitude by continuing Elyssa’s legacy through the American Heart Association.
“Elyssa worked very hard to be a good steward of her donated heart and to take care of it and to educate people about not only organ donation but taking care of yourself. I think she would be very proud of what we’re doing,” Edie Jacobs said.
“If all we do is champion the American Heart Association and the efforts that they put forth in the community with research and education, then that’s what we’re gonna do. We just hope that everybody else would see the vision and do the same thing,” Jeff Jacobs said.
The couple is serving as co-chairs for this year’s 28th annual Baldwin Art for Heart. Through the fundraiser event, they have donated CPR kits for students at Orange Beach High school.
Baldwin Art for Heart 2020 is scheduled for Saturday, April 4, at The Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach.
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