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How an Artificial Heart Was the Bridge to the Rest of Shawn Galloway’s Life

At 30, Shawn Galloway was 20 weeks pregnant with her first child. The shortness of breath and swelling she was experiencing was attributed to her pregnancy. But when the heart palpitations started, she knew something was wrong. At the emergency room, she received a cardiac enzyme test, which revealed that her heart had sustained damage. Although she delivered her daughter without any issues, a year after the birth, Shawn was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

In April of 2011, she was told she would need a heart transplant and was put on the transplant list. But, by July, she had gotten so sick that she could no longer wait for a donor. Shawn was facing the choice of dying or being the first recipient of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart at Texas Heart® Institute at CHI St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s. The revolutionary device kept her alive until September, when a donor transplant gave her new life.

One week after the first anniversary of her transplant, Shawn and her husband adopted a baby. And today, feeling healthier than ever, she volunteers every week with the Heart Exchange Program at Baylor St. Luke's, counseling pre- and post-transplant patients.