August 20, 2020
Lisa Carmichael has beat the odds stacked against her time and time again.
Diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at 33 years old, the diagnosis immediately brought back many thoughts of her family.
Lisa’s mother died at 42 from the disease, and her grandfather died in 1955 from heart failure.
“It was very difficult losing our mother to cardiomyopathy when I was 14,” Lisa said. “I knew my mother wasn’t feeling well but had no idea that she was so sick that she might die. I went through so many emotions of things that I wish I had never said, things that I wish I had said, and I was upset that I never got that good-bye moment.”
Lisa finished junior high with her mother, never suspecting she would start high school as the girl whose mother had died. They were still relatively new in their community, but people knew about it because of the dramatic fashion in which the ambulance, firetruck and lifelight helicopter all showed up on their street in the middle of the night.
“All through high school, I’d watch other girls with their mothers prepare for different life events, including college visits, and I was incredibly heartbroken that I did not have my own mother to share that experience with,” Lisa said. “Education was her primary goal in life.”
Despite her medical history, doctors still questioned if Lisa’s heart problems were hereditary.
Lisa went to the doctor after feeling heart palpitations and generally not feeling well. Her doctors attributed it to being a young mom working a lot and traveling a lot.
But Lisa knew something more was wrong.
She would eventually be listed for a heart transplant the Tuesday after Labor Day in 2012.
She had been sick for nearly a decade and had many procedures the two years leading up to her transplant. “I fought really hard to stay alive and felt like a warrior the morning of transplant,” Lisa said in a video for the American Heart Association. “The first time I saw myself in the mirror after transplant was almost a week and a half after transplant and I was in utter shock from everything I had gone through. I felt like a science project.