About Our Speaker
Ginger Zimmerman is an Artist, Writer, Motivational Speaker and one of the very few receipts of not just one but two heart transplants. She received her first transplant on April 23, 1998 at the young age of 32 due to a condition called Permanent Dilated Viral Cardiomyopathy. At that time she was married and the mother of three young sons ages 4, 9 and 13.
Misdiagnosed for almost four years, she was finally told she was dying with a heart barely working at less than 15%. Ginger would die without a lifesaving transplant...but would there be enough time? Placed in the hospital, she waited for almost four months. A donor heart was found but the elation was soon replaced by horror in a freakish twist. Ginger’s life would be saved but her husband David, riding in a helicopter on the way to be by her bedside was in a terrible accident. David sustained a brain injury that would take his life nine days later.
David was in fact an organ donor and Ginger was asked for consent to see his wishes fulfilled. His healthy heart was a match for a Dentist and father of three who had recently been listed and hospitalized at the very hospital that Ginger was recovering in. David’s donated organs saved five lives and helped improve the lives of others through his gifts of tissue, bone and corneas.
It took faith, strength and perseverance for Ginger and her sons to heal and move forward with their lives. At the time, Ginger was given a limited life expectancy after transplant of 5 to eight years, a standard prognosis at the time. Determined to extend that prediction to raise her children herself, she was able to push that timeline to almost seventeen years.
Ginger underwent another open heart surgery to replace a valve in her first transplanted heart in September 2011. Her youngest son Jason was in his senior year of high school at the time.
Although she felt she wasn’t recovering as she should from this second open heart surgery she was encouraged to get back to traveling and speaking again which she did. While visiting friends in Ireland Ginger knew something was wrong and was briefly hospitalized. Once she was back home in the states, Ginger was cleared by her doctor for travel for a speaking tour. They felt the issue was minor and could be addressed once she returned home.
After successfully making those engagements and navigating several airports, Ginger was on her way to her next flight at Chicago Midway Airport when she began suffering classic (for women) heart attack symptoms and collapsed. Rushed to the hospital, in the next few days Ginger would have a stent placed in her LAD the left anterior descending artery. Considered the most important of the three main coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle and thus given the dreadful nickname “The Widow Maker”.
Ginger was told by doctors that her transplanted heart, that had served her so well was in fact dying. A condition called Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy (CAV) was causing the length of Ginger’s coronary arteries to all close from smallest to large at an accelerated rate. It’s thought to be a type of chronic rejection. Would it be possible for Ginger to undergo a rare, second heart transplant? Only six weeks later Ginger would need a second stent in her left main coronary artery to help her heart continue blood circulating throughout her body. Time was running out....put into a transplant center in NYC, Ginger would wait in the hospital for nine months, determined to stay alive until a donor heart could be found.
Silent Auction, Screenings, Booths, and Health Expo 9:00 AM - 1 PM
Luncheon Doors Open 11:00 AM
Heart Healthy Luncheon 11:30 AM
Silent Auction Closes 1:00 PM