Q&A with Jessica, Mother of CJ, Who is Awaiting a Heart Transplant

by Talia Giordano, LCSW, Director, Family Services & Caregiver Lifeline Program


Balancing caregiving for a transplant patient and being a mom can feel like an overwhelming task. Jessica shares her experiences of caring for her son facing the unimaginable challenge of heart failure and the urgent need for a heart transplant.

Jessica, Mother of CJ

CJ, Jessica, and their dog

A:It’s hard because I’ve seen him go through this for years, and I can’t fix it. Especially because he wants to be normal and do normal things, and he can’t. It’s mentally and emotionally draining after all these years. I try not to stretch myself too thin, which is important for any mom. When he is hospitalized, I try to take a walk when he is doing well. I have also met other moms with kids in similar situations, which has been helpful. I have people checking in on me every day by phone and text. As a family we try to focus on the positives and enjoy the times we do have because things could be so much worse. I want to preserve the time we have with CJ and focus on the good things as long as I can.

CJ in the hospital

A: It’s very hard. Our church family helps us with so many things. There were times where he was hospitalized for really long periods. Between 2022 and 2023 he was hospitalized for just about an entire a year, and we had family to support our other daughters. My husband and I try to work as a team to be there for the kids, though it’s hard when we can’t be there together when CJ is at the hospital and the girls are at home. We try to find the little things and moments, like all of us FaceTiming every morning and every night and visiting on weekends.

L-R: Casey, Natalie, Alexia, CJ, Jayda, Tara and Jessica

A: I would never want another child to get ill or be hurt, especially since having my own children and a child who has an illness. When CJ was getting listed for a heart, a nurse encouraged us to think of it differently, that we’re not praying for another child to die for CJ to live, we’re praying for that child’s loved one to have the strength to say yes to donation by blessing CJ with the gift of life in their time of their tragedy. I still struggle thinking about it, especially during the times when CJ has gotten “calls,” but we still pray for those families regardless of whether they would go on to become a donor for CJ.

You can provide hope to the thousands of people like CJ who are waiting for a transplant. Learn more and sign up at www.donors1.org/register

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