WELLNESS SERIES: BEC CRAVEN

We first met the gorgeous Bec Craven at our Lahana Active Warm launch event and she was one of the brightest souls in the room! This beauty is a heart transplant survivor with a truly contagious nature who inspires us everyday!

Bec absolutely radiates from the inside out & her deeper beliefs only amplify the gem that she is!

Bec, can you tell us about your journey? What was your life like pre heart transplant?

Before my transplant I was a normal 23 year old Gold Coast girl! My job was a dream, taking groups to Cook Island to snorkel with Manta Rays and Turtles.
I used to travel a bunch too!

Tell us your story...

When I was 23, I went to Bali with a girlfriend for a month and caught a really bad flu and discovered a rash all over my body. I thought it was measles so although a little worried, I didn’t fret too hard. When I travelled home, my doctors were convinced I had pneumonia. I was admitted to emergency twice due to how bad my flu-like symptoms had become.

One day during work I collapsed and was rushed to hospital.This is when the doctors realized I never had Pneumonia. They came to the conclusion that the virus I had caught in Bali had attacked my heart muscle, meaning it wasn’t pumping properly.

 

Bec wears the white Tyler Crop.

"Coming to terms with not knowing if you’re going to see it through the year is a tough pill to swallow."
As soon as I was diagnosed with heart failure I became terrified...
Once in ICU, 5 litres of fluid were drained out of my lungs. I was literally drowning from the inside out. I had no energy whatsoever. Walking 5 metres was a serious stretch & that became my reality for the year before my transplant.
Albeit the rough times, I’m lucky enough to have had a really strong support system to fall back on! I also met my boyfriend who I am still with today & for that, I feel blessed.

After conducting multiple tests, an ECHO scan told the doctors that the left ventricle wasn’t pumping enough blood to the rest of my body. I was not tested for heart failure for quite a while as it is hyper un common in people my age.

After being on the transplant list for a month, my health deteriorated and I had a mechanical heart (LVAD) put inside my heart. This titanium steel box was literally making my heart work! It was connected by two wires to two batteries that sat outside my stomach! I waited another 9 months for my transplant heart to arrive. I had carers 24/7. I couldn’t shower or drive my car. I did become really good at drawing and art which is a bit of a silver lining!

Waiting (praying) for a heart was a really mentally challenging time for me.
Feelings of guilt would arise often when I tapped into the fact that someone had to pass for me to get a heart.

There is soo much that goes into finding an organ that matches you perfectly! The organ donor has to be the same blood type, weight & height. Having quite a petite frame meant that it would be quite tough to find a match. Other dependents include the fact that a heart can only survive 6 hours outside of the body so you can imagine what a journey it was to find a suitable heart! The doctors continuously reminded me that many heart transplants don’t go ahead last minute due to complications so I made sure not to get my hopes up...

Early one morning, I was in hospital for a routine check up.

"My doctor took me aside and told me they thought they had a suitable heart. I was beyond excited! This was the moment I had been waiting for."

I got ready and was eagerly waiting in my room surrounded by family.

I waited in anticipation for hours. It got to 2 AM and there was still no positive news. Safe to say I was gutted. During this time I went through an emotional rollercoaster...laughing one minute then crying the next.


At 4 AM a nurse came into my room and gave me the green light - we were on! I swear in the space of 20 seconds I was laying on the bed getting wheeled down the hallway to the operating room with only a few seconds to say bye to my loved ones.

There was always a chance I wouldn’t come out of the transplant alive.
The last thing I said to my Cardio surgeon before being put under was

“Please don’t let me die”

& he responded with

“You aren't going to die on my watch”

His response settled my nerves completely.

I was kept in a coma for some time after my surgery. There were several complications during the surgery... I was operated on for an extra 8 hours due to complications and as my Kidney failed, I now had to be on dialysis.

Has your career as a model changed since having your transplant?

I now get booked for my look as well as my story!
Being on numerous podcasts, tv shows and interviews, such as sunrise, ABC and Mamma Mia has given me the chance to share my transplant story whilst raising awareness around organ donation, immune system compromisation & more.

We LOVE that you are all about using Instagram as an uplifting platform, sharing personal insights & raising awareness around the topic of heart transplants!

My scar tells a pretty powerful story.
At first, I was embarrassed and self conscious about it. After posting an Instagram photo I gained lots of traction from other organ transplant survivors and received hundreds of messages filled with support. People were reaching out with similar stories & the community felt so strong! I decided to use Instagram as a platform to be an advocate for organ transplants and health and help others going through similar experiences!

Has your experience changed your relationship with Instagram?
How would you describe your audience?


Instagram has become a platform to share my story, to support and to hopefully inspire people who have gone through a similar experience. My audience ranges from heart transplant survivors, people who have been ill & generally just anyone who may have found the story to be moving. A little community kind of formed itself & I now have a heart transplant circle of support.

Has the Covid period been an uncomfortable time dealing with isolation/being immunocompromised?

Before any of the info came out about Covid being a thing (on the news etc), I was personally called by my Doc who told me I’d need to isolate for the foreseeable future.
This would mean that my boyfriend would now have to sleep in a separate room, my friends & fam couldn’t visit & leaving the house would now become somewhat rare. The house became the safe zone so no one would enter other than my boyfriend. Throughout the Covid period, my main focus became uni. I’ve spent quite a lot of my life being somewhat isolated so this time felt somewhat familiar for me.

Since having this transplant, have you found you have adjusted your list of goals and aspirations?

Much has stayed the same!
I aspire to live each day with gratitude and love!

Is there something you wish you could tell young Bec?

To never hide my scars and be proud to show them.

What’s something you learned throughout Covid?

Covid has been a good time to practice gratitude & to not take shit for granted!

We have popped a link below for you to register to donate your organs!

"Did you know that 1 organ donor can save the lives of up to 10 people?"

Bec also told us that ultimately the final decision is from your family so make sure you chat to them and raise awareness of the importance of organ donation!

https://donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today

Much love Bec!

Thanks for sharing x

Lovers, untameher.