By Matt Wotus
Amy Silverstein had her first heart transplant when she was 25 and was told she would live for another 10 years, at best, with the new heart. Over two decades later, in 2014 at the age of 50, Silverstein was still alive but needed a second transplant, and she credits a group of nine friends with saving her life.
The friends cared for Silverstein, now 53, in her hospital bed in California as she awaited a new heart. They came from all around the country and different parts of Silverstein’s life, and some of them were strangers to each other, but they made sure she was never alone. The group even made a spreadsheet calendar to organize their time with her.
“You feel blessed to show up, and it’s a gift for us in a certain way, to be able to show up for her,” Jane Shepardson, one of the friends, told ABC News.
The group would spend time with Silverstein giving her spa treatments and making her laugh, but they said they thought losing their friend was a “very real possibility.”
“[We] absolutely had to reckon with the possibility that we were leaving and we might not see Amy and it might not come through,” Robin Abrams said.
That possibility never became a reality, though, as Silverstein underwent a second transplant, receiving her donor heart from a 13-year-old girl. Just one day after surgery, she got out of her bed and walked down the hospital hallway.
“I was told that this young girl, who I know nothing really about, but she was an athlete and she makes me want to run and I can feel her as I run,” Silverstein said. “She gave me new life, not just life but new life.”
Even her nine friends who saw her at her weakest moment, have noticed new life in her.
“We were at a gathering about a year after this heart transplant and I looked over and saw Amy dancing with like so much color in her face,” Shepardson said. “It stopped me in my tracks and I started to cry.”
She added, “We never could have imagined that she would feel that good, look that good and be the healthiest she’d been in her entire life.”
Silverstein, who now lives in New York City, also said she never expected to feel as well as she does now. She describes her friends’ heroic efforts in her new memoir, “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” which has been secured by J.J. Abrams’ production company for a limited TV series.