Like Family: Iowans Connect After a Motorcycle Crash and a Heart Transplant

Apr 24, 2018

Teresa Hafner would not be alive today if she had not received a new heart through the Iowa Donor Network. She lives because of a motorcycle accident that killed a 26-year old woman. During this hour of River to River, she talks with host Ben Kieffer about being the recipient of a heart transplant. 

"Back in 2006, I flat-lined while I was at work and had to have a pace maker and a defibrillator placed at that point. I was fine for a while, and then I went into heart failure," she says. 

Hafner was on the heart transplant waiting list for 16 months before she got the call that a new heart had been identified. She suffers from a genetic disorder that took both her sister and her niece's lives. 

"The heart gets enlarged, and then it races and then it just stops," she explains. "I was born with it. My mom passed it on to us." 

Gigi Robertson, who is mother of Teresa's heart donor, also joins this River to River conversation, alongside Dr. Jay Bhama, director of heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and Tony Hakes, who works with the Iowa Donor Network. 

Robertson and Hafner have become friends since the transplant, which took place in August of 2016. Robertson's daughter Tabatha donated many of her organs and other bodily tissues to people like Hafner.

Robertson says its a blessing that they connected after the transplant. 

"When I first met Teresa, it was like meeting an old friend," says Robertson. "I got to listen to my daughter's heart, which was a blessing... it was just amazing." 

"When I got hear Tabatha's heart, I knew part of her was alive in some way. Tabatha wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Her heart matched Teresa."