August 14, 2022

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O’FALLON, Ailing. — A faculty superintendent within the Metro East stated she owes her life to a brand new buddy that she calls “Tank.”

It’s been11 months since Darcy Benway, the Superintendent of O’Fallon Township Excessive Faculty District 203, underwent coronary heart transplant surgical procedure.

“Once I was transplanted, I made a vow that I used to be going to recollect my donor,” she stated. “So, I named my coronary heart ‘Tank.’ It appeared like we had simply been by means of a warfare collectively. Tank appeared acceptable.”

Benway, 57, has been a superintendent in O’Fallon for 15 years — however her 14th 12 months was almost her final.

Final spring, the wholesome and match mom of two and former collegiate champion swimmer on the College of Kansas was working from a Barnes-Jewish Hospital mattress, linked to a machine working within the place of her dying coronary heart.

Dr. Joel Schilling, the medical director of Washington College and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Heart’s coronary heart program, put her on the transplant listing after medicines didn’t right a uncommon, lethal type of coronary heart irritation referred to as Big Cell Myocarditis.

“She was capable of get her coronary heart inside three days of itemizing, which was necessary as a result of she was on a really momentary help system, which doesn’t final however per week or two at most to maintain somebody alive,” Schilling stated.

After the six-hour surgical procedure, the medical crew gave Benway a read-out of Tank beating within her. They let her pay attention by means of a stethoscope.

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“It was,” Dr. Benway stated, pausing to carry again tears, “most likely the most effective sound I ever heard in my life at that time.”

The Washington College and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Heart’s coronary heart program is the one coronary heart transplant middle within the St. Louis area and certainly one of nation’s busiest.

“To see of us come from as near demise as you’ll be able to presumably be after which six months later, they’re residing a traditional life. That’s fairly superb to witness. It’s a part of the blessing of attending to do what I do,” Schilling stated.

The medical crew performs 40-50 coronary heart transplants and sustains life in one other 50 plus coronary heart sufferers by means of using mechanical gadgets yearly, Schilling stated.

Benway, who grew up in Edwardsville, is now coaching to renew 5K runs and planning for her son’s marriage ceremony this summer time due to Tank.

“’Tank and I now do all the things collectively,” she smiled. “I might not be sitting right here speaking to you at present if it weren’t for Tank. I wouldn’t be right here.”

Benway referred to as the Washington College and Barnes-Jewish medical crew her “angels.”

“When she instructed me that was the title all I might do was smile,” Schilling stated. “I stated that’s an excellent title for this coronary heart. Let’s preserve Tank going nicely into the long run.”

Benway referred to as her donor her hero.

“I do know that particular person was a separate and distinct particular person from who I’m, who’s now part of me,” Benway stated. “They’re heroes. They’re the miracles that make like occur for thus many individuals. We’d like extra folks to be organ donors. There’s lots of people ready.”

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She has no details about the donor. She granted an interview to FOX 2 Information on one situation: that we share organ donor web sites to encourage extra folks to provide the present of life.

To change into an organ donor or just get extra info, go to: www.barnesjewish.org/donatelife or www.organdonor.gov.

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