In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 20, 2019

Heart Transplant Recipient Driven to Make a Difference, Now Needs Second Transplant

By In the Loop

Elizabeth Sammons received a heart transplant at Mayo Clinic in 2015 and used her second chance at life to give back, crocheting hundreds of scarves for homeless Minnesotans.


Elizabeth Sammons got her first second chance at life in 2015 when she received a heart transplant at Mayo Clinic. And as WCCO reports, she used that second chance "to give back to people in need," crocheting scarves — lots of them — for the homeless. "It's easy to get into a 'woe is me,' and depression," the then 31-year-old told the station of living with health challenges. "It's true if you go and do something for somebody else it just takes you out of that. It takes you out of the mindset of, 'Me, me, me,' and you focus on someone else and it just brings you joy."

The first year after her transplant, Elizabeth donated more than 1,000 scarves to homeless people in Faribault and St. Paul, Minnesota, tying the scarves to trees. She crocheted some of them herself, but many were donated by people who learned about her story through media reports or her Facebook page, Crocheting with a Cause. Each scarf included a tag that read, "I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep warm!"

The tags also referenced one of Elizabeth's favorite Bible verses "about comforting others in their time of trouble, as God has comforted me in my time of trouble," she told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in another story. Elizabeth told the publication that each scarf would be "prayed over" before being tied to a tree. "I'll ask God to protect whoever takes one and ask that they would keep warm with it and that they would be blessed."

In the years since her transplant, Elizabeth has continued to crochet and collect scarves. She's added hats to the mix as well. Last year, donations went to Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul, where she met a woman who had received one of her creations. "She thanked me and said she'd never had something like this before. It's fun to see it come to fruition," Elizabeth told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in December.

But in the months since then, Elizabeth's health has declined and she has put "Crocheting with a Cause" on pause. "After helping thousands of homeless people keep warm through the years, Elizabeth Sammons now finds herself needing help," the Pioneer Press reports. She's back at Mayo Clinic, awaiting a second heart transplant and also a kidney transplant. She's continued to crochet at the hospital, "but her production level has dropped considerably," the paper reports.

Although Elizabeth doesn't know how long she will wait for her second second chance at life, she and her husband, Dustin, remain hopeful about the future. "It has been a long road and there is still much ahead," Dustin wrote on Go Fund Me, "but we know God will carry us through."

You can learn more about Elizabeth's first transplant and donor here. Then donate your thoughts below before using the social media tools to share this story with others.


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Tags: heart transplant, Kidney transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Patient Stories

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