Shyra Chandler wears her heart on her sleeve as a constant reminder that time for her is fleeting.
The tattoo on Chandler’s bicep, a heart with a clock wrapped around it, symbolizes that her heart is running out of time and the only way she can buy more time is via heart transplant.
At age 21, she suffered her first heart attack. After suffering three more heart attacks when she was 22 and 24, enduring pneumonia and being on life support for a month, Chandler, now 28, was diagnosed with end-stage congestive heart failure.
Chandler dreams of hearing her heartbeat once again, but she knows someone will have to pay the ultimate sacrifice for that to happen.
Now that she’s on the very top of Scott & White’s heart transplant list, she’s thankful for the slight, high-pitch buzzing of the LVAD machine that pumps her heart — the only thing keeping blood flowing into her heart and keeping her alive.
The average heart transplant costs nearly $1 million and even with health coverage, which will cover the cost of the transplant itself, she faces significant expenses related to the surgery. For the rest of her life, she will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications costing more than $5,000 a month.
To help alleviate the financial burden, volunteers hosted a barbecue dinner, auction and raffle at The Canteen, raising more than $4,000.
“Her hospital bill from her stroke rehabilitation stay in February was hanging over our heads,” said her mother, Debbie Rodi. “We are using the money raised to pay that and we are so grateful to those who came out in support of Shyra. Every little bit helps.”
Chandler said she was overwhelmed by the support she got from people she had never met.
“I really appreciate everyone that came out. It’s amazing to have so much support,” she said. “Now I am just waiting for that phone call, and it could come at any time.”