Val Bergeron doesn’t have a moderation button. Ever since her heart transplant in May 2015, she has pined for the days when she could resume her busy, active volunteer life.
Val is back home in Quesnel, but still travels to Vancouver every three months for check ups and she is always cautioned to take it easy.
“I’m back in the pool and that makes me happy,” she said with a smile.
“I’m doing aqua fit and deep water running, two of my favourite activities.”
But again her family and friends, although excited to see her resuming normal activities, continue to caution her to be careful.
Val’s heart transplant was triggered by her genetic disease familial dilated cardiomyopathy, the disease which took her father suddenly in 1995 and afflicts her sister, brother and two nieces.
The road to her transplant was long and at times very painful, including the implanting of a defibrillator (her brother and sister also have a defibrillator implanted) through open heart surgery in 2013 for leaky valves and 18 months on the top of the Canadian transplant list.
She was admitted to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver April 8 as her heart was failing.
“They honestly didn’t think I’d get a heart so they were just looking to prolong my life a bit,” she said.
“They were grasping at straws as to how to help me.”
Just when the situation couldn’t be more bleak, a heart became available and Val began a new chapter in her life.
Val returned to Quesnel in September 2015 eager to resume her life. She registered with B.C. Transplant in case the family of the donor heart wanted to contact her. As to any sensations about the former owner, Val said the heart stands alone, it doesn’t bring any emotional baggage to the transplant process.
“It’s important the recipient doesn’t take on the burden of the donor’s death,” she said.
“We just have to be very grateful to the family who made it possible for my heart transplant.”
When asked if she has a bucket list, Val said just a very modest one. She’d like to travel inside Canada to visit relatives.
“I’m still a little nervous to travel outside of Canada, what if something happens to my heart,” she said.
She admits, she has good days and bad days but overall she’s very happy with her life and her new heart. After all she has been through, Val is very open to speaking with anyone facing either transplantation or heart surgery and invites them to give her a call, 250-992-8506.