Young Adult - Fiction
When Caelyn Noel was diagnosed with asthma five years ago, it put a damper on things. Now, she’s sixteen and things are finally going her way. She has loving parents, the best friend ever, and the boy she has had a crush on since elementary school has finally noticed her. Then, she collapses in school one day. To her horror, she finds out her heart is failing and she must have a heart transplant to live. Caelyn struggles with her fear of dying and worries of having someone else’s heart.
with Caelyn Noel from If I Die Young
What songs are most played on your iPod?
Fallin' For You by Colbie Caillat, You Got Me by Colbie Caillat, Skin by Rascal Flatts, What Hurts the Most by Rascal Flatts, Need You Now by Lady Antebellum, Then by Brad Paisley
What is your favorite meal?
Pancakes!! I love drenching them in rich, maple syrup. My mom makes the best pancakes ever.
Do you play any sports?
No, I've never been allowed to because of my health. Maybe now that I've had a transplant, I can finally do something. However, I have no idea what to try out for first.
What are you passionate about these days?
Educating people about transplants and being donors.
What makes you happy?
Besides the obvious (my friends and family), being able to walk to my classes without getting out of breath makes me very happy.
Heart to Heart
By Talia Jager
A transplant can save a life. We could be talking about heart, kidney, liver, even bone marrow. In If I Die Young, we meet Caelyn Noel, a normal teenager with asthma. She’s lived with it for years and knows how to deal with it. Until it becomes more than that. As symptoms persist and get worse, her mom takes her to the doctor where Caelyn finds out it’s not asthma, instead she has a heart problem. She’s put in the hospital and treated with medications and surgery. But, neither help enough and eventually she is put on the transplant list.
Caelyn is lucky and only has to wait a short amount of time for her transplant. The average waiting time is seven months, but as much as 40% of patients die waiting for a transplant.
This story is close to home for me. My family has had more than their fair share of heart problems. I, myself, had heart surgery when I was just four years old. The doctors repaired a hole in my heart. This was the same surgery my uncle, cousin, and later on my daughter had. As years went by, many of my family members were diagnosed with different types of heart problems. One of my cousins even collapsed his senior year of high school, thankfully, he was revived.
Within the past few years, one of my uncles and my cousin passed away from complications with heart surgery. It’s scary to know that a family member less than two years older than you died from heart problems. He left behind a wife and two kids. What would happen to my husband and five kids if that happened to me?
His father’s, my uncle’s, health deteriorated after his death and he had to be admitted to a hospital in Boston and put on a transplant list. He only had to wait a couple of months before getting the call and receiving a new heart. What a blessing for my family! As happy as we were for our family, I was sad for their family. The donor family was going through a devastating ordeal and here we were rejoicing. Didn’t seem fair. They gave us such a gift. One that will never be forgotten.
I actually wrote If I Die Young before my cousin died, but I didn’t publish it until 2011, a few months before my uncle’s transplant. I didn’t know if he’d live or die, but it was a story I needed to tell.
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