RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- When you meet Regina Armstrong you’ll quickly see that she is full of life, and it’s in part because she knows she’s fortunate to have been the recipient of a heart and kidney at two different times in her life -- courtesy of organ donors.
“I look at this now with this transplant and I’m totally blessed and forever grateful to my donors there’s nothing I can say or do to express my gratitude in that,” said Regina.
In 1987, when she was just 12 years old, she caught a virus that spread to her heart, prompting the need for her to get a heart transplant. And because of that procedure, she knew she would eventually need a kidney, which she received in December of 2018 at Cedars-Sinai.
“In Regina’s case, she’s doing really well, but she still needs to be followed closely because rejections can happen anytime. We’re recommending that she see a kidney doctor every month for now," said Regina's doctor, Ed Huang.
Dr. Huang, who continues to treat Regina post-operatively for her kidney, says about 10 percent of heart transplant recipients will eventually require a kidney.
But, it was her old heart doctor, who has known her since she was 12, who says the big reason why Regina lives such a full life is because of her tenacity.
“You might say that she almost died, survived, and truly got back to a great quality of life. Got married, had a son. You might say she has lived it all, and there’s a great future to her as well,” said Dr. Jon Kobashigawa.
Part of that future is her family, and the transplant journey is something they share.
Her father-in-law David had a double lung transplant at Cedars-Sinai in 2018 and her husband Dave received an experimental hand transplant after an accident in 2002 -- although it was unsuccessful.
So having Regina in their lives, who’s gone through this process twice, has had a big impact on the family's understanding of their own procedures.
“Her trials and tribulations that she’s gone through, the ups and downs of everything of transplant life is huge,” said Dave Armstrong.
So despite the obstacles this family has face, they count themselves as truly lucky to be alive.
“I really feel it was by a greater good that this family was meant to be together like that,” said Regina.