Two hearts beating as one is the kind of cliché stuff you hear around Valentine’s Day or when you’re watching a romantic comedy on Netflix. But rarely do you imagine it having a literal meaning. Well, it so happens that in the case of Taylor Givens and Collin Kobelja, two patients in desperate need of hearts, it really was! You see, the two strangers underwent a life-saving operation back in June 2011 that gave them a chance to live a long happy life. But little did they know that the gifts that saved their lives, also allowed them the chance to find true love.The 24-year-old Givens believes that everything happens for a reason, and her soulmate, 30-year-old Kobelja, totally supports that belief because they are both lucky to be alive and happy in love.
They needed new hearts. Undergoing a transplant was something that Kobelja was used to, but for Givens, it was something that had just recently happened and it was unimaginably difficult to deal with.
Her doctor initially assumed she was having anxiety, but an X-Ray proved that her heart had become enlarged. They also believed that a cold virus had created a cardiomyopathy, a condition that wreaks havoc on the heart muscles.
He was hooked up to the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO), which helped pump blood out of his body, oxygenate it, and return it to him, just like Givens had been before she got her heart. He was born with a faulty heart and had gotten his first heart transplant as a baby.
His ejection fraction was at 10 percent and he needed a new heart. On June 9, 2011, he got one, and opened his eyes three days later. As soon as he was fully aware he started crying because he didn’t know what had happened, but at least he was alive and well.
Doctors didn’t think she’d make it, and as soon as she stabilized, doctors put her on the transplant list, until she got her heart. While she convalesced, she had heard of Kobelja because their families had talked, but despite being next door they couldn’t leave the room to meet.
Givens wanted to be friends with Kobelja real bad, so they could share their experience, but he was in a different place mentally and wasn’t interested. But after he moved to San Diego, the two found a way to connect on social media.
A year after his transplant, his arteries clogged up to 90 percent, leading to heart failure. He needed a new heart. But he didn’t have any symptoms, so he was shocked when the doctor told him his prognosis. On December 2012, he got his third heart, and this time it was successful.
Givens was also in the hospital getting her tonsils removed and she invited him to visit. It became obvious, even to her mom that Kobelja was flirting and they’ve been inseparable ever since. They did the long-distance thing and he planned to move to Northern Virginia after graduating college.
Givens had a cancer caused by her body’s reaction to the heart transplant. It was called Burkitt Lymphoma. Fortunately, she had Kobelja with her and he was there to help her through her treatment. The best part of this story is that she is now in remission!
Now they’re both hoping that their personal struggles will help people to understand just how important organ donation can be. It certainly saved both their lives and allowed them to move forward towards a happy future together.