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Join us at our Celebrating the Gift holiday open house and tree decorating events! Learn more >>

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Join us at our Celebrating the Gift holiday open house and tree decorating events! Learn more >>

The waiting list: Claire Brejcha’s hope for a new heart

May 16, 2019

At 22 years old, Claire Brejcha doesn’t know what it’s like to feel healthy.

The Wayne State College student has been diagnosed with a heart condition since she was just two years old. At that time, Claire says her heart was so enlarged it looked like the size of a 14-year-old. Over time, heart problems became worse and she eventually faced a diagnosis of Shone’s Syndrome. The disease means multiple obstructions of Claire’s heart.

Now, she waits for a transplant in the hopes of finally feeling healthy.

Claire is a K-12 Art Education major and graduated from Friend Public Schools in 2014. She’s one of several who have connections to donation in the small, rural Nebraska town. Claire also served as the York Czech Queen from 2014-15. She says one of her greatest accomplishments is simply living past her teenage years.

Claire describes herself as caring, outgoing and charismatic. She says her family — and humor — help keep her motivated

“I try to be funny with any situation and make light of the situation, even when I am in a procedure in the hospital,” she said.

Even her doctors and nurses think she’s funny at times, she adds.

Despite her cheerful outlook and spunky personality, Claire does face daily challenges. She has often faced judgment for looking completely healthy despite needing a transplant.

Over the years, Claire says she has had moments when her condition would get better. But like a line graph, it eventually would “just go back downhill.”

The one thing Clair looks forward to most is finally feeling healthy and the ability to do things she’s always wanted to: volleyball, laser tag or simply walking around a store without relying on a cart or wheelchair.

The gift her eventual donor will give her is not lost on her, either.

“The donor will allow me to live a whole new life,” she said, “and yet, I will be grateful to the donor and the family.”

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