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Hartselle Enquirer
Photo by Jennifer Sherwood

Hartselle woman marks 28th anniversary of heart transplant 

Hartselle native Mary Davis is commemorating a significant milestone in her life. Feb. 21 marks nearly three decades since she underwent a lifesaving heart transplant surgery at UAB’s Kirkland Clinic. It’s been 28 years of healthy living for Davis who said she thanks God every day for the extra years she has been given.  

Davis, now 81, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when she was 54 years old. 

Photo by Jennifer Sherwood 
Mary Davis is celebrating 28 years since undergoing a heart transplant Feb. 21, 1996, that saved her life.

Davis’s journey began in 1996 when she received the life-changing diagnosis.  

 She spent eight months on the waiting list for a suitable donor heart before undergoing transplant surgery on February 21, 1996, at UAB’s Kirkland Clinic. 

The day of surgery, Davis had eaten a couple bites of her lunch, when she was alerted that a suitable heart had been found. Her husband, Jimmy, was working that day.  

Davis said it was a rush to get her prepared for surgery.  

“They said ‘Don’t take another bite of lunch – we’re going into surgery today,’” she recalled. “As the nurses were wheeling me to the operating room, my husband came walking down the hallway.  

“He gave me a kiss and I was off to the OR,” Davis added. “You can’t tell me that wasn’t a God thing.” 

In the years since, Davis has had to be treated with high doses of steroids twice to keep her body from rejecting her donor heart. She said that is typical for a transplant of such a vital organ.  

Since her successful transplant, Davis has dedicated herself to advocating for organ donation. She has become a vocal champion of the cause, sharing her own story to raise awareness and encourage others to consider becoming organ donors. 

Her family members have joined her; becoming organ donors themselves.  

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 103,223 men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list and 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant. 

What’s more, statistics show every donor can save eight lives and enhance 75 more.  

While more than 46,000 transplants were performed in 2023; the list continues to grow as every eight minutes another person is added to the transplant waiting list. 

“Others don’t realize how many people are on that waiting list,” Davis said in a 2003 interview with the Hartselle Enquirer. It makes me realize how lucky I was to have only waited eight months for a donor. Some people have to wait until it’s too late.”  

As Davis prepares to celebrate 28 years of health post-transplant, she remains grateful for the selflessness of her donor and their family, whose decision to donate the gift of life has allowed her to continue living a full and vibrant life.

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