Barhite: A sad ending to a once-happy storyWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Five years ago, a colleague wrote about a local woman who risked death to deliver her baby.
The original story ran as part of the Mother Day’s coverage in Toledo Free Press.
Kristy Kress had been in her seventh month of pregnancy when she developed peripartum cardiomyopathy — pregnancy-induced heart failure — and gave birth to a premature son.
A few months later, she had a successful heart transplant.
She went back to work, she and her husband Chad raised little Hunter, and she became a huge advocate for organ donation.
In most cases, we would never have to revisit this story. But then everything changed — in a heartbeat.
On Feb. 7, Kristy, 36, died after suffering a rare form of rejection related to her heart transplant — years after the surgery had been deemed successful.
It was a shock.
“She wasn’t sick over the past five years,” said her sister-in-law Lexy Batey. “You would have seen her on the street and you would have thought she was just like you.”
I vividly remember the original story from 2009. At first, her last name didn’t sound familiar. However, her photo gave me pause. It was Kristy McVicker, a 1995 graduate of Springfield High School, my alma mater.
When I started to see on Facebook that she had passed, I thought it had to be because of something other than her heart. She had met all of her transplant milestones.
“We have had five extra years,” said her mom, Diana McVicker. “Her rejection started in August and progressed really quickly.”
As the family struggles to find a routine after Kristy, they try to focus on her memory. Unfortunately, none of her organs could be saved and donated.
“She would want to be remembered as a good mom. She had five years with her son that she wouldn’t have had,” Batey said. “We are holding up, but it is tough. We are trying our best.”
In the future, the family would like to do something in her memory or organize a benefit. They will be paying medical bills for a lifetime, so encouraging organ donation is a more immediate gift.
“Organ donation meant so much to Kristy. She wasn’t sick over the past five years,” Batey said. “She was back at work a week after being released from the hospital with a heart transplant.”
Kristy was the general manager of Extended Stay America in Holland. She and her husband met at work.
“Kristy was so down to earth. Monetary things meant nothing to her. She is my sweetie,” her mom said.
The Thursday before she died, it was suggested that Kristy go on disability. She refused. “That is not going to happen; don’t even go there,” she said.
In honor of Kristy, the family asked that donations go to Life Connection of Ohio, an organization dedicated to organ donation.
“It became her passion,” McVicker said. “Every time she posted she would mention it. If Kristy would have asked anything of us, she would ask us to be organ donors.”
Her other passion was her family, which was evident the first time we wrote about her. Doctors didn’t think she would survive a cesarean section to bring her son into the world. She did it anyway.
“Kristy was a fighter. She believed in hard work. She had a great deal of love, and she loved her family, especially Hunter,” her mom said.