After heart transplant at 21, Rocklin’s Rainey lives each day to the fullest

By: Michael P. Fabel, Jr., Special to The Placer Herald
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When Theresa Rainey was 13 she began to experience blackouts, dizzy spells and seizures. “I would feel dizzy or light-headed and the next thing I knew I was waking up,” recalls Rainey. One night Rainey made her way to her parents’ room, which she never remembers doing and blacked out. She was immediately rushed to the emergency room where tests were conducted. The doctors concluded that Rainey had a left bundle branch blockage. In other words, her heart wasn’t getting a clear signal as to when it should beat. The doctors also concluded that Rainey had a heart disease called restrictive cardiomyopathy, which means the heart chambers are unable to fill up with blood properly because of stiffness in the heart. They treated the left bundle branch blockage by inserting a pacemaker in her chest and they treated the restrictive cardiomyopathy with medication. At 15 years of age, Rainey’s pacemaker had to be replaced due to scar tissue build up, which was draining the battery at a quicker than normal pace. When Rainey turned 19, she had to have a blood clot removed from a vein in her upper left arm, which was attributed to the pacemaker. Two years later, the medication for the restrictive cardiomyopathy had run its course and just after Rainey’s 21st birthday, she received a new heart. “I put my name on the list and four days later they found a heart,” Rainey said with a grateful smile. Rainey’s dad, Chris Rainey, remembers that time in their lives. “It was a bittersweet moment. We had a moment of joy and a moment of tears because we knew a family was grieving,” he said. When asked how she dealt with everything, she replied without hesitation, “My family, my faith and my friends.” Theresa Rainey said she’s very fortunate to have a family like hers, which lovingly provides her with unshakable support. When it comes to her faith it’s straight forward – she believes in something greater than herself. Theresa Rainey has to take 25 pills a day. But she believes that medicine only goes so far and the power of positive thought takes you the rest of the way. “The mind is very powerful,” she said. Chris Rainey said that his daughter is a great visualizer. Whenever Theresa Rainey gets an idea in her head, she does it. She’s currently taking piano lessons and looks forward to learning how to play the guitar. She also wants to learn how to sail. Theresa Rainey, now 23, said she has never felt better. She’s currently enrolled in three dance classes, working two jobs and is waiting to hear back from San Diego State where she hopes to complete her major in interior design and minor in psychology. Theresa Rainey said she thinks it’s up to the individual to create his or her own destiny. “You can’t just sit back and think things are going to happen, you can make things happen,” she said. Theresa Rainey knows her life experiences have made her into the person she is today and therefore said she wouldn’t change a thing. “I just do what I need to do and things are going to happen the way they’re going to happen,” stated Theresa in a gentle, but confident manner. When asked if Theresa Rainey lives her life by any motto, she replied with “carpe diem,” which means, “seize the day” in Latin.