LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Organ donation can make quite an impact on people searching for hope.
Rachel Kunch is a living example of that impact.
Kunch’s life took a turn in 2018, and for her, it was quite a shock.
Nearly five years ago, Rachel was a healthy, active 44-year-old woman. Suddenly, Rachel started to feel “off.”
“I started to have shortness of breath late at night over the course of a weekend,” said Rachel.
She thought it was a cold, or maybe even bronchitis.
Either of those would have been a blessing compared to what doctors told her a few days later, her heart was failing.
Initially, Rachel was told she could recover.
“In my head it was, get through this. However many days it takes to get well and get back to life and maybe make some lifestyle changes if it was called by stress,” said Kunch. “Or something that I had something to do with.”
She prayed and believed things would get better.
But, a week went by, and things got worse. Much worse.
Other organs in Rachel’s body were starting to fail.
Rachel then transferred to the University of Michigan, where a doctor told her that she needed to be put on a life support system and needed a heart transplant.
“It’s a very rare condition called giant cell myocarditis that I was ultimately diagnosed with,” said Kunch.
That was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Doctors gave Rachel just a few days to live.
But Rachel said that even then, something inside her told her that she was going to be ok.
The next day, she was placed on the transplant list.
Cut to Thanksgiving morning, when Rachel’s husband said something to her.
“My husband walked in and said, ‘I think you’re going to get a heart today.’ and I said ‘No, I don’t think, it’s not going to happen that fast, there’s no way.’ He just believed it was going to happen.
Sure enough, the couple got that very news.
“When you’re a recipient,” said Kunch. “You’re given the gift of grace forever, and so I recognize always that, while I lived someone else had to die. So that weighs heavily on me especially, this time of year.”
That donor was a 33-year-old man who died on Thanksgiving.
His heart beats for Rachel now, and it beats to tell the story of a Thanksgiving blessing from a stranger who gave the gift of life.