By Meg Coker The Tunica Times, Mississippi
Her life is filled with uncertainty and fear, but one 29 year old mother of two clings to the hope that one day her life will change. And she hopes that day is soon.
Tomeka Scott, a lifelong Tunica resident, is suffering from an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure. For over six years, she’s been taking medicine to help keep her conditions under control. Now, her doctors say the time has come for Scott to have a heart transplant.
“They tell me I probably needed it in 2002, but now my heart is not responding to the medicines I have been taking,” Scott said. “My doctors say the next step is a transplant if I want to live a long life.”
And since being diagnosed in April of 2002, Scott’s life has been on hold.
She is four classes away from earning an associate’s degree from Northwest Community College. She was majoring in childcare but can’t complete her degree or start a career due to her condition.
“Right now, I can’t finish school because I get sick,” Scott said.
In the last six years, she has been hospitalized multiple times.
Each time she’s had to go to the hospital, her children Derrick and Dekeidra have been afraid she wasn’t coming back.
“They ask a lot of questions like, ‘Are you going to die?’ and they don’t want me to go. They get really scared,” Scott said.
Scott said her children can’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick. She was first diagnosed when her daughter was four months old and her son was two. Doctors attribute her illness to childbirth, but say it is very rare.
“They say it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen,” Scott said.
And since it happened Scott has had a defibulator put in to shock her heart should it stop beating. She takes seven different types of medicines a day to keep down her fluids, build her potassium up and keep her kidneys functioning properly.
In addition to taking medication, Scott must see a doctor three or four times a week. Her home cardiologist is located in Southaven, but the heart transplant will actually take place in Jackson, Miss at the University Medical Center. In order to prepare for that, she’s been making the trip back and forth to the state capitol to see doctors there.
“I’ve been going to meet with them, but I’ve missed an appointment because I didn’t have a ride,” Scott said.
Transportation is a big issue for Scott, and doctors are hesitant to put her on the transplant list because of it.
“I’ve got to be prepared to go at any time,” Scott said.
And she hopes there is someone out there who can take her to Jackson when the time comes.
In the meantime, she’s been through all the pre-transplant testings and screenings, which are extensive. Scott said she had to pass an eye and dental exam. She’s had blood tests and tissue typing in order to find a compatible match. She’s been through psychiatric and psychological evaluations. She’s consulted with a team of doctors. All that is just a small part of what transplant patients must go through.
Scott said she is mentally prepared for the transplant, although she hasn’t always felt that way.
“It’s scary to think about that at first,” Scott admits. “I didn’t want to do the transplant, because I wasn’t sure what would happen.”
Now, she knows it’s the only way.
Luckily, she’s been surrounded by a strong support system who have helped her face the tough decisions. She said she was grateful for pastor McKinley Daley for his guidance and help. She said her children’s father, Derrick Scott, and her sister and her mother have helped take care of her and her children. Her mother, Annette Harris, comes over several times a week to clean up her house and cook.
“She makes sure I eat right,” Scott said of her mother. “I am on a low sodium diet, no salt, limited snacks, no chips, no sweets.”
Her mother said she doesn’t mind helping and hopes that her daughter will get the surgery she needs.
“I just keep praying and trusting God, even though we have difficulties,” Harris said.
And Scott said she is looking forward to the day when those obstacles are gone.
“I want to live a happy, healthy life, a heart healthy life,” Scott said. “I know that my new heart is not mine and it’s got to respond to my body. I want to live life to the fullest.”
That includes watching her children grow up.
Scott said she loves her family and excitedly described them and their hobbies. Her son loves music and plays the guitar. He is also an avid sportsfan and really enjoys football, the sport his father played in high school.
Her daughter loves Hannah Montana and watching football. She dreams of becoming a cardiologist to help her mom and others like her.
Both children Tunica Elementary School, where they learn while their mother waits.
Tomeka Scott is waiting. Her mind is filled with uncertainty and fear, but she is holding out hope that one day her life will change.
And she hopes that day is soon.
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Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves