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Olivia Eisenhauer

Olivia Eisenhauer was an ordinary, active teenager. That all changed the day she collapsed between volleyball matches and was unconscious and without a heartbeat for several minutes. Miraculously, Olivia survived — yet she and her family did not know what caused her sudden cardiac arrest.

Eventually, she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy and learned she would need a heart transplant. More than a year later, Olivia received her new heart. Today, she can’t fully express the appreciation she feels for her donor and that person’s family.

“I’ve sat down several times to write them a letter, and I can’t put it to words,” Olivia said. “I’m grateful. It’s all very overwhelming, and what I’ve learned from this is to take things day by day.”

“Gratitude is just not enough,” Olivia’s mother, Jodi Eisenhauer, added. “We feel so sad for their loss. But as a mother, I know that Olivia’s nature, incredible responsibility and how she’s cherished this organ are going to be a tremendous gift to them if at some point they decide they want to connect. I hope and pray that helps their family heal.”

Olivia Eisenhauer’s Family

Pictured: Recipient Olivia (second from right) with her sister, Millie; mother, Jodi; and father, Rod Eisenhauer