CEDARVILLE, Ohio—Not everyone gets a second chance at life. 

  • 18-year-old Lauryn Gibson had a heart transplant when she was a year old
  • She is now a pharmacy student at Cedarville University
  • She hopes to one day work in a hospital environment helping others

Amongst the busy walkways of Cedarville University is a student who knows this better than anyone. 

Lauryn Gibson is an 18-year-old pharmacy student who just enrolled this semester.

Underneath her infectious smile, is a unique story — one that started back when she was just a baby. 

Three days before her first birthday, she almost died from congestive heart failure. 

“I had dilated cardiomyopathy, which basically means my heart was too big for my body and couldn’t pump correctly,” Gibson said.

After 276 days waiting for a new heart, Gibson got her second chance from a donor in Cincinnati.

“They got it done in about six hours, which was a lot less than they thought,” she said. “But I had great surgeons, so God blessed me with that.”

Since her surgery as a baby, life hasn’t been easy. 

“It’s been check-ups, and hospital visits and blood draws, and just, anything that might be a threat, I have to go to the doctor,” said Gibson. 

Gibson still has to take auto-immune medication to suppress her body’s natural tendency to fight against foreign bodies, like her transplanted heart.

The medication makes her more susceptible to germs and illness, so she has to be careful about what environment she’s in —one of her biggest challenges at her new college. 

“This is a lot bigger campus, there’s a lot more people and bigger classrooms, so I do still commute,” she said. “Because that helps a lot. If I was staying in the dorms, I would be sick all the time.”

Despite her restrictions, she tries her best to live her life to the fullest. She has a desire to travel that started when she was 11. 

“My Make-A-Wish trip to Atlantis, Bahamas, which they were very surprised,” she said. “They for sure thought it was going to be another Disney trip. We went to Atlantis for like a week, and they planned everything, and it was great, it was amazing. We went swimming with the dolphins and all kinds of things.”

Another adventure she had was a trip to California with her aunt, and a cruise she went on just this past spring.

Her goal is to live a happy and fulfilling life — one that her donor would be proud to see. 

“I just want to do it justice,” Gibson said.” That’s what I really strive toward. I just want to use this second chance to really make everyone proud. I don’t know the donor family, but I just, if they ever were to reach out, (I’d hope they say) ‘wow, look at all she’s done with this heart.’” 

For now, Gibson’s drive is hard at work taking on classes at Cedarville, and one day she hopes to work in a hospital environment helping others. She said if there’s one message people should take from her story, it’s this:  

“God does grant miracles; he does. Everybody calls me the miracle baby, but it was God’s will. So, I think that if you do pray and do believe and you just give it all to him, because that’s what my parents had to do. They had to give it all to him and put it in his hands, and he took me, and he healed me. So, I say that God does grant miracles, and I’m grateful for every single one he gives me.”