When Aspen Myers and Mollie Adams met for coffee in late October, Adams was eager to ask her friend how she was feeling.
Myers has struggled with heart problems for much of her adult life, and while waiting for a transplant donor, had entered final stage heart failure. It was a scary time, Adams said, and they all felt the weight of knowing something had to happen soon.
But when the two got to talking, in classic Myers fashion, she had other things on her mind.
It was Halloween that week and the Mount Si High School teacher knew how important that was to her students.
“That’s very much who she is,” Adams said. “In a moment of final stage heart failure, all she’s thinking about is how can my kids have the best Halloween.”
That selflessness and sincerity has made Myers a light in the community. It’s why after she finally got her heart transplant — in what she described as “feeling like Christmas morning” — so many have stepped up to support her.
While recovering at a Spokane hospital, the community rallied behind her and her husband, Karl, raising over $38,000 for the couple in only five days.
“It’s been great to see the outpour of support from everyone whose lives Aspen has touched,” said Scott Louis, another friend of Myers’ who set up the fundraiser.
“Even though she has been feeling very very badly, she is always energetic and still the life of the party,” Louis said. “She’s a real bright spot in the community.”
Myers works as a life skills and special education teacher, while her husband is a gym teacher and coaches the school baseball team. During the summer, the two work at Pearl and Stone Winery in North Bend.
They’re a constant presence in the community, which is always apparent during Mount Si football games, Adams said, when a constant stream of students come up to them.
“Anywhere you go in the Valley with Karl and Aspen, you will get stopped,” she said. “Everyone knows them and desires to be around them.”
Despite her condition, Myers was still working full-time up until her transplant and found a way to keep as normal of a life as possible.
However, over the last two years, Adams has watched her friend go through pain and exhaustion to a point where even short walks were burdensome. A week before her transplant, she was sitting with Myers in an ICU, while she was on 24/7 medication.
Then late one night, while Myers was alone in that ICU, she texted Adams. She had a donor and was headed to surgery the next morning.
In the succeeding days, Adams has clung to her phone waiting on every update.
Last Thursday, she was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Myers had gotten off ECMO, a form of life support that temporarily does the job of the heart and lungs, and Adams even got a picture of her sitting up in a chair.
While Adams acknowledges there’s a long road ahead, the news was a huge comfort.
“Today has been the day we’ve all taken a deep breath,” she said. “Her new heart is finally functioning on its own. I just have the biggest smile on my face.”
You can donate to Myers at: gofundme.com/f/aspen-myers-heart-transplant-recovery.