Heart Recipient Alison Steinhauser
"If someone had told me that I would sleep on the floor in the hospital room, go days without a shower while sponging off in a restroom, or survive on meals from a vending machine during her six month hospitalization, I would have told them it could never happen." -- Marleen Steinhauser
At the age of 16, Marleen Steinhauser's daughter, Ali, suffered a cardiac arrest and was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle. A defribrillator was implanted and saved Ali's life on three occasions during the next eight years. While Ali was pursuing a master's degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, she collapsed at school and was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where she was diagnosed with pneumonia unresponsive to medication. She was placed on life support and remained unconscious for six weeks. Eventually, it was determined that a heart transplant was Ali's only hope for survival.
"The patient isn't the only one to suffer. It would have been nice to have someone hold me up so I could help my daughter." -- Marlene Steinhauser
"It was a nightmare that a parent cannot comprehend," Marleen recalls. "Once a week on a Sunday morning if someone could stay with Ali, I went home to New Jersey, showered, watered the plants and went right back to the hospital. We never left her side."
Like many family members dealing with life-threatening health issues of loved ones, Marleen was held captive in the ICU with Ali hoping and praying for her daughter's survival. She suffered in silence, focused only on the needs of her daughter.
Fortunately, once Ali was placed on the transplant waiting list and because she was so critically ill, she received her transplant within a matter of days.
Today, Ali is the picture of health. She is completing studies on a Psy.D. program for Clinical Health Psychology at PCOM and is interested in specializing in psychosocial issues, including anxiety and depression surrounding transplantation. Her focus is on uncovering why some patients are noncompliant since medication ensures successful transplantation outcomes. She is committed to helping other transplant patients and family members who are impacted by transplantation.
Ali speaks regularly about her transplant experience and has recently organized the "Young Friends of Family House" a group of young professionals who committed to supporting Family House fundraising. In addition to her full educational and volunteer schedule, Ali recently was engaged to be married.
"I know that my mother and my family would have benefited greatly from Family House. We are committed to making it a reality so that others can be helped through the transplant experience," says Ali.
From a Waiting Room to a Warm Room Waiting..
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