GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — April is National Donate Life Month, and one woman who has received the gift of life three times is urging others to save others' lives in need of transplants.
One day Katy Rozman was your average 7-year-old, and the next her doctors said she might not make it to her next birthday.
“...it wasn't until one morning getting ready in my parents were getting ready to leave for school and my parents' kitchen I had a stroke,” says Rozman. “And the entire left side of my face went numb as well as my hands and I was drooling.”
Katy was taken to the hospital where her parents were told she had a type of heart disease. Doctors gave them two choices: take her home and start end-of-life care, or put her on the transplant list.
They chose the list, and after months of waiting, they received the call.
“My mom sat me down on her lap, and she explained to me that they had a heart for me and I would be going in for surgery and I went and it was successful.”
Eleven months afterwards, though, she developed Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma as a result of an anti-rejection medication for the transplant. She received treatment, eventually becoming cancer free.
“I had a great childhood. School… everything was great. I was healthy again until I was maybe 19 or 20 when they realized that I was back into heart failure,” Rozman told FOX 17.
She was once again put on the transplant list, but her body became ill after the second transplant this time, also resulting in kidney failure, meaning now she needed a new heart and a new kidney.
“My phone rang and it was Ann Arbor area code and my heart dropped. Just dropped,” Rozman remembered. “I think I stopped breathing for a minute because U of M never calls me that late at night. And I answered the phone and…they told me that they had a heart and a kidney and I cried. We went in for my transplant just like that.”
Despite the difficulties, she found love, got married and has been able to travel.
“It's a lot. It's a scary, scary story. It’s more than most people go through in a lifetime, but I don't know anything any differently. And I'm humbled that I was given these opportunities, and I don't take it for granted at all.”
She’s using the time she has now to live her life with happiness even on the hard days, and sharing her story to encourage others to donate.
“You know, you can either be buried with your organs, or you can donate them and help other people live, and I don't feel like there's anything more humbling in this world and knowing that when you go one day, you get to save lives.” Rozman says.
Gift of Life Michigan is celebrating 50 years of connecting organ and tissue donors with those in need, like Katy Rozman. If you'd like information on how to become a donor, you can reach out on their website or call 866-500-5801.