Murder-suicide leads to new life for 20-year-old
[This story first aired on March 14, 2020. It was updated on December 26.]
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten always believed there was no ordinary day and set out to prove that theory by picking a random date out of his hat. It ended on December 28, 1986 and he believed encompassed the best and worst of the human experience.
NO ORDINARY DAY
If there are two things in this world that Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten loves, then over time they will write and tinker.
Gene Weingarten [working on a clock]: This was done around 1895 and when I'm done with it it will work like new ... If you fix a really old clock. You feel like you are in touch with the passage of time.
Weingarten has long believed that there is no ordinary day when innumerable stories lie hidden in space and time - some are lost forever, others are destined to be discovered.
Gene Weingarten: My theory was that if you took a day, midnight to midnight ... a single day ... that day you would find the entire human experience encapsulated. ... And I've decided to question that theory.
Jim Axelrod: How?
Gene Weingarten: By randomly pulling numbers out of a hat.
Weingarten and its editor Tom Shroder went to the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC, tossed 20 years of random data into a green fedora, and picked one to prove Weingarten's theory that something extraordinary happens every day.
Gene Weingarten: We came up with December 28, 1986.
It was the slowest news day of the week: a Sunday, during the slowest time of the year, the Christmas break.
Jim Axelrod: If we could have read this thought, it gushes over both of your heads ...
Gene Weingarten: You couldn't print it. We felt we had really drawn a terrible, terrible day.
But according to Weingarten's theory, he would soon find out that this was no ordinary day. Something amazing had happened - a medical achievement that would make history.
Gene Weingarten: Something amazing happened ... a remarkable triumph.
Gene Weingarten: And then I did some more research and a completely different story came up. ... And that involved a wild murder, the murder of Karen Ermert.
Weingarten met a detective named Tommy Lee who had been holding Karen's file for 30 years for reasons he could not fully explain.
Det. Tommy Lee: The case was closed, but I couldn't just keep her ... I bothered that her life was being cut short. I thank God Weingarten for she will have a little more legacy than just an obituary and yearbook.
Jim Axelrod: Can you describe Karen a little for me?
Gene Weingarten: From a purely physical point of view, she was effortlessly beautiful. You look at her pictures and you just see someone who hasn't tried to be pretty.
Gene Weingarten: She was talented. She played the flute. ... And just everyone really loved her.
Including Rich Lieb.
Rich Lieb: I think about her all the time.
Karen first met in high school when she started dating another man, his childhood friend, Mark Willey.
Rich Lieb: He ... adored the ground she walked on. ... There was only one teenager who was really proud to be in the arms of a beautiful young girl.
But as time went on, Lieb, who dated Mark and Karen twice, said Mark's pride had turned into obsession.
Rich Lieb: When she wasn't with him, he always wanted to know where she was ... he actually drove through Northern Virginia sometimes and followed her to find out what she was doing and where she was.
Mark Willey met Karen Ermert in high school. Boyfriend Rich Lieb says Mark became controlling and abusive towards Karen until she eventually broke off their relationship. / Photo credit: Oakton H.S. and Falls Church H.S. Yearbook
Gene Weingarten: He was a young man who fell madly in love with a young woman. And I use the word angry on purpose. He was what we would now call a stalker.
Jim Axelrod: This was the guy who had this beautiful teenage girl on his arm and lived in fear that he would lose her.
Rich Lieb: Oh, definitely ... If she was somewhere and someone smiled, looked at her and she smiled back, "What are you looking for her?"
Jim Axelrod: This isn't someone who's gotten a little too deeply into their romantic partner. He wanted to own her.
Mark's affection for whiskey made matters worse.
Rich Lieb: As soon as he started consuming alcohol he got paranoid, a little ... defensive in every little thing, and really thoughtful and moody.
Jim Axelrod: He became a dark figure?
Rich Lieb: Yes, he was commonly known as an "angry drunk".
And Karen wasn't one to withdraw from a fight.
Rich Lieb: You became very fiery together. He would start an argument ... "Oh, he was looking at you. You were looking at him," whatever. But she ... would fight back. And I think ... that only made him angrier.
Jim Axelrod: Reich, it's a flammable mixture.
Rich Lieb: Yes. Yes, it really was.
Rich Lieb became so disgusted by Mark's behavior towards Karen that he broke off his friendship with Mark. But he would find out later how flammable Mark and Karen's relationship was.
Rich Lieb: She had gone to the hospital a couple of times for injuries ... she said they would get into an argument. And it was literally like a fist fight - that ... she just had to try to defend herself. ... It was very disturbing to hear that.
Gene Weingarten: He's so overwhelmed her over the years that ... she realized she couldn't take it anymore. And she broke up with him.
It was around this time that Lieb received a letter that would change his life.
Rich Lieb: I got an anonymous letter ... and it was a love letter.
Rich Lieb: I just said: "I don't know who that is. I would like to know who that is. But I have no idea."
Jim Axelrod: Completely anonymous?
Rich Lieb: Completely anonymous.
Rich Lieb: It was obvious from someone who knew me ... they thought I was kind and considerate. ... And she hoped she could muster the nerve - to tell me who she was.
Finally she did.
Rich Lieb: I get a call on Christmas Day. And it's Karen. And she tells me ... "I broke up with Mark. I'm all alone in my apartment. My roommates are gone. Come over, keep me company."
Rich Lieb "Sure." Loved karen. … good friends. So I went there. And - we spent a wonderful evening together, talked and just had a great time.
Rich Lieb: And around the middle of the night she says to me: "Did you get a letter a few months ago?" And I was just down to earth. I had no Idea. ... And - she told me that she had always had feelings for me ... and we just got right into every step.
Jim Axelrod: If I inject you with a truth serum on the night of the 26th, do you think you've found your life partner?
Rich Lieb: Yes, probably. I can't help but wonder what could have been.
Gene Weingarten: It was like a revelation for her, sad as it sounds, that you could have a romantic relationship that wasn't painful. She hadn't known that.
But Mark Willey refused to let her go, says Lieb, who was there when Karen called Mark to tell him there is no chance of getting back together.
Rich Lieb: Basically it was, "Look, I tried to tell you nicely. I tried to explain it to you. I tried to be gentle with it, but we're done. I'm not." I won't take your abuse anymore. ... and I don't want to see you anymore. "
Jim Axelrod: What did you hear?
Rich Lieb: Just a raised voice - angry, raised voice. But she smiled. And I think she felt very relieved when she finally felt, "I'm done with this."
Gene Weingarten: Nobody really noticed the sheer horror of this breakup. He told her at the time that he was going to kill her ... she laughed. She didn't think this would be possible.
FROM TRAGEDY ... TO TRIUMPH
Rich Lieb will never forget the last time he saw Karen Ermert. He said goodbye before going on a day-long ski trip
Rich Lieb: And I said to her: "I really don't want to go. I just want to spend the time with you." But I've already committed. "You're expecting me ..." And she said, "OK, see you tomorrow?" I said, "Sure. I'll call you as soon as I get in." And we parted.
Neither of them imagined that Karen's estranged friend Mark Willey was making plans of his own.
Jim Axelrod: He would either be able to get back together with this woman he was obsessed with or he would kill her.
Det. Tommy Lee: That's right.
Armed with a bottle of whiskey and a 22-gauge rifle, Mark Willey got into his car and headed to Karen's apartment.
Gene Weingarten: Mark was angry. ... Obviously he's not thinking clearly. Karen had the right to break up with him. She almost had an obligation to break up with him.
Jim Axelrod: Well, he's got a lot of anger.
Det. Tommy Lee Yes, he does.
Jim Axelrod: He's got a lot of alcohol.
Det. Tommy Lee: Yes.
Jim Axelrod: And he has a gun.
Det. Tommy Lee: Yes.
Jim Axelrod: Terrible combination.
Det. Tommy Lee: Deadlier.
DECEMBER 27 | 2 A.M.
Jim Axelrod: Well, get me through. He shows up here, he doesn't go through the front door.
Det. Tommy Lee: No. He parks his car on the other side. He's going over here [pointing to the back of the building].
Gene Weingarten: He climbed a tree to a balcony near her bedroom. He apparently had the rifle on his back. He stowed it on the balcony and went into the house.
Detective Lee believes it was Mark's last attempt to win her back.
Det. Tommy Lee: And they argued pretty hard. And I think it was around that time that he decided it wasn't going to work. ... And he goes back and gets the .22 and shoots five rounds - kills it.
Rich Lieb got the news when he got back from his ski trip.
Rich Lieb: I walk in the door, drop my things and go straight to the phone. And my mom comes in and keeps me from voting. And says, "Rich - Karen was shot last night." And I'm just in shock. "Oh my god, what hospital? Where is she?" "She did not make it."
And this is the part of history where something amazing came out of something terrible, says Weingarten. The part of the story that belonged to a young woman named Eva Baisey, a very sick 20 year old nursing student who was fighting for her life at Fairfax Hospital. A few months earlier, the single mother of two young children suddenly fell ill.
Gene Weingarten: She couldn't walk more than half a block without stopping and gasping. Climbing stairs had become a Himalayan task for her. Her own doctor felt that she might have a month or two to live.
Gene Weingarten: She finally went to a heart specialist. And the heart specialist did some tests and said, "I need to put you in contact with a man I know." And it was Dr. Lefrak.
When Dr. Ed Lefrak, chief physician in cardiac surgery at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, met Eva Baisey, she was suffering from idiopathic cardiomyopathy.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: The idiopathic means we have no idea what caused the heart failure. Her heart began to fail.
Dr. Lefrak knew she would not survive without a radical procedure: a heart transplant. There was only one problem.
Jim Axelrod: Have you ever had a heart transplant?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: No, I didn't.
Eva Baisey, 20, a nursing student and mother of two young children, suffered from heart failure and would die without a transplant. / Credit: Inova
In 1986, heart transplants were so unusual that no hospitals in the Washington, DC area could legally perform them. Dr. Lefrak - determined to make Fairfax first - fought tirelessly for permission. But the local health department said no; there wasn't enough demand.
Jim Axelrod Some people may hear the "no" and walk away.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: That's not how I roll ... it's just the opposite.
Mary Dellinger was Lefrak's surgical nurse.
Mary Dellinger: He was very determined and wouldn't take no for an answer.
Lefrak slipped into a plan: Dr. Christiaan Barnard was supposed to get the man who performed the first successful heart transplant in 1967 - featured on the cover of Time Magazine - to stand up for the state health commissioner on behalf of Lefrak.
Gene Weingarten: He arrived in Virginia like a superstar ... He said it would be amoral to see a qualified surgeon like Dr. Not to allow Lefrak to perform this operation. And immediately they got permission.
Mary Dellinger: Dr. Lefrak has just entered the O.R. the next day and he says, "We got it."
Jim Axelrod: What did you think?
Mary Dellinger Well, I thought, "OK, it's our turn ... now we have to find the first perfect patient."
That first perfect patient was Eva Baisey. But she was running out of time.
Gene Weingarten: Eva was dying. She was getting sick.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger was Eva's primary care nurse.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: It was a very real possibility that she could die before she had a heart. Lots of people do.
Dr. Unsure when or if a donor would come through, Lefrak, his wife Trudy, and their four girls canceled their family vacation ski trip. He only had one thing on his mind.
Jim Axelrod: Dr. Lefrak and his team - they are looking for a heart.
Gene Weingarten: You have someone to save.
And then it came. The call they'd been waiting for.
Jim Axelrod: It's an attempt.
Mary Dellinger: It's an attempt.
A perfect donor
Dr. Lefrak and his team were preparing to make history - on the verge of becoming the first team in the greater DC area to attempt a heart transplant. They had finally found the perfect donor for Eva Baisey.
Jim Axelrod: Did you know anything about the donor at this point?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: No. I really didn't know anything about the donor. I think they called me and told me it was a donor with a gunshot wound to the head.
But it wasn't Karen Ermert.
Gene Weingarten: In the perfect narrative, Karen Ermert's heart would have been the one that saved Eva Baisey, but that's not how it happened. Things are not always that simple. It was the murderer's heart that saved Eva Baisey.
December 27th | 2:00 am
After Mark Willey shot his ex-girlfriend Karen Ermert, he took a break.
Gene Weingarten: He waited in the house until the police came and knocked on the door ... And then he shot himself in the forehead.
Jim Axelrod: If the relationship were over, life would be over -
Det. Tommy Lee: Yes.
Jim Axelrod: - for Karen and him.
Det. Tommy Lee: That's right.
Mark Willey was pronounced brain dead. But his heart was still beating.
Jim Axelrod: How was it to beat?
Gene Weingarten: The bullet went through both sides of the brain. Somehow the heart often - but not always - keeps beating.
Jim Axelrod: When you get to this apartment, he's gone.
Det. Tommy Lee: Yes.
Jim Axelrod: He was taken to the hospital?
Det. Tommy Lee: Yes.
His body was being taken to the same hospital where Eva Baisey was dying when the transplant coordinator sought permission from Mark's parents to donate their son's still beating heart.
Mark's father, Larry Willey, gave a brief voice-only statement to the local media:
LARRY WILLEY: Two families have suffered a terrible tragedy. One that can never be completely healed ... Hopefully something good can come of this tragedy.
Gene Weingarten: They were good people. They were horrified. They were in mourning. And you made the right call.
Mark Willey was brain dead, but his heart hadn't stopped beating. His parents agreed to donate their son's heart. / Credit: Fairfax Journal
DECEMBER 28, 1986 | 2:30 a.m.
Eva Baisey was wheeled into Operating Room 6.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: I said a prayer for you. I firmly believe in prayer. ... We look forward to them, but we are also afraid. I mean she might die down below.
Dr. Lefrak and his team gathered in Operating Room 12 to remove a living, beating heart for the first time.
Gene Weingarten: You'd worked with corpses in the morgue because… heart transplants weren't taught in colleges or medical schools at the time. The only way to learn was to do it.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: I would have regular heart surgery in the morning. And between operations - go with a team to the morgue ... and then back to the operating room.
Dr. Ed Lefrak, then chief of cardiac surgery at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, fought tirelessly to make his hospital the first in the Washington, DC area to be certified to perform heart transplants, the mortuary, the only way to learn how at the time. / Credit: CBS News
Jim Axelrod: Doctor, did you learn how to do heart transplants during your lunch break?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: Yeah, you could say that [laughs].
But this time it was real.
Jim Axelrod: As ready as you, was any part of you a little scared at all?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: No, not at all ... I was totally comfortable ... because I've done this many times in the morgue.
Jim Axelrod: Do you play like you practice?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: Exactly, yes.
Dr. Lefrak began removing the donor heart.
Gene Weingarten: Lefrak is a man with scissors. ... And he essentially cut it out of that body with scissors that were not much different from those of a second grader used to cut colored paper. You are just a pair of scissors.
Dr. Ed Lefrak [with a model of a heart]: We cut, cut, cut, cut ... cut the aorta. Cut the pulmonary artery. And then the heart is free.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: It takes 5 minutes to withdraw a heart from a donor.
Jim Axelrod: Five minutes?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: ... it's really easy.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: So we take it out, cold, because we put cold solution in. And then immediately put in bags of ice.
The heart, which ideally shouldn't stay out of the body for more than four hours, has been wrapped and placed in an igloo cooler - the same kind you buy in the supermarket.
Mary Dellinger: When we were all gathering our supplies it was like, "Who's got a cooler?" I said, "I have an igloo cooler."
Jim Axelrod: So you brought your cooler from home.
Mary Dellinger: I brought my cooler from home. I still have this cooler.
The cooler with the heart was carried 90 feet down the hall, by O.R. 12 to O.R. 6, Eva's room.
Jim Axelrod: How was the mood in O.R. 6?
Mary Dellinger: I think there was a very high level of anticipation ... "Oh my god, we're really doing this."
Jim Axelrod: Twelve is trauma and despair. Six is hope.
Mary Dellinger: I hope so. Absolutely. And you know we're fixing someone.
Dr. Lefrak began to replace Eve's dying heart with the healthy one.
Jim Axelrod: You remove Eva's heart ... Now what?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: As soon as it's out, let's take the donor heart out of the cooler. And - you need to prepare a little to sew it in ... that big empty room which is quite a dramatic scene. There is a person lying on the operating table, Eva, with an open chest and no heart.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: And it lives because it circulates through the heart and the lung machine.
He started sewing the new heart into Eva's chest.
Dr. Ed Lefrak [with a model of a heart]: The back wall of Eva's heart has been left in place. That makes it a lot easier to sew the donor heart onto Eva.
After about 45 minutes the new heart was in Eva Baisey's chest. Now came the moment of truth.
Gene Weingarten: Usually you need an electric shock ... you have the paddles that you use. In this case there was such a strange alchemy and the heart was just starting to beat.
Jim Axelrod: That must have been -
Mary Dellinger: It was amazing.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: Exciting and very rewarding ... I get tearful if I even say it.
Jim Axelrod: And is that the moment when you think: "Did it"? [laughs]
Dr. Ed Lefrak: Well, I don't usually think that way. Because it's not over until it's over until she goes home.
EVA'S NEW HEART
The Karen Ermert murder case has been closed; The killer was dead. But Detective Tommy Lee couldn't let go of it.
Det. Tommy Lee: Every detective has a case that haunts you ... and that case will haunt me until the day I die.
Det. Tommy Lee, the first detective on the scene, kept Karen Ermert's file for 30 years for reasons he could not fully explain. He said the case is still haunted him. / Credit: Fairfax City Police Department
Detective Lee went to Karen's funeral.
Jim Axelrod: You didn't know her.
Det. Tommy Lee: No, but I had some time with her mother ... It would have been wrong for me not to pay any respect to Karen, whose life was so short.
Gene Weingarten: There is no way to wipe away the central tragedy of this story. A deeply distraught man killed an innocent young woman. ... All you can do is go ahead and say that something positive happened
December 29, 1986
NEWS REPORT: Washington Area's First Heart Transplant Case is a dramatic story of a district woman's renewed life. A 20-year-old mother of two is in stable but serious condition tonight at Fairfax Hospital.
It was big news. The first heart transplant recipient in the Washington, DC area had survived the operation.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger | Eva Baisey's nurse: It's a miracle. It's a miracle. ... I was very touched and happy that she was fine and survived the operation.
Finally Eva Baisey opened her eyes.
Eva Baisey | Heart Transplant Recipient: I just woke up. Like I just went to sleep that night and like every other night you know I forgot that I was sick when I woke up.
Eva Baisey: And I just wanted to go home the next day. I say, "Can I go home, I'm ready."
Jim Axelrod: In the meantime, you haven't understood the transplant part.
Eva Baisey: Exactly. Yes [laughs].
She didn't know, but the hardest part was yet to come. The fight against her body's natural instinct to reject her new heart.
Mary Beth Maydosz | Transplant Coordinator: Your body never accepts this heart as its own. It's always someone else's genes, so we always have to fool it.
The way to fool the body is through anti-rejection drugs. And since Eva was patient number 1, Dr. Lefrak everything. It was a delicate balancing act to suppress her immune system to prevent rejection without making her too susceptible to infection.
Dr. Ed Lefrak | Transplant surgeon: It was quite a while before she was in the hospital.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: I think every time Eva was rejected, I was afraid that we would lose her. Because their rejections were quite severe at times.
Eva was quarantined to protect herself from infection.
Mary Beth Maydosz: You looked like in the cinema now, where people walk into the room that someone has Ebola or something. You know, we put on booties and the headgear and clothes and everything just to go into the room. She must have felt so isolated and scared there.
Eva Baisey: It was difficult. That was the hardest part ... I want to see my babies. They let my mom in and she had to stand in a corner with a mask and gloves on for 5 minutes, you know.
Jim Axelrod: So you couldn't hug?
Eva Baisey: No, no.
As the weeks went by, Eva seemed to be doing medically well, but she was struggling in her small, lonely world, says Doerflinger, which was one of her few connections with the outside world.
Eva Baisey says it was particularly difficult to be quarantined and not be able to see her children while she was recovering. / Credit: CBS News
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: Very lonely. So sometimes I would hang around and just sit with her for company, I mean ... We'd try to get her into things if she wanted to. Or, you know, we'd get your things from home and bring them in. We have done everything to make it more comfortable. ... Eva was particularly annoyed one day ... And she said, "I just want ... I want out of here. ... I want to breathe fresh air."
So Doerflinger drew up a plan. She carefully cleaned her car, put on a mask and gloves for Eva, and the two of them set off.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: We have just left.
They even stopped at McDonalds.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: She has a hamburger and I think a coke or something. And she wanted fries. I think we threw the fries away. I said, "Let's not push it [laughs]. I want to keep my job."
Jim Axelrod: God bless Deirdre what?
Eva Baisey: Yes. And oh my god it was the best burger I've ever had.
Dr. Lefrak had reluctantly agreed to the trip, but Doerflinger and Eva kept the fast food part a secret.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: I mean, we gave her guidelines, but she wasn't a big guideline person [laughs].
It turns out that the transplant transformed more than just the patient.
Jim Axelrod: Surgeons aren't usually known for their bedside style.
Eva Baisey: Yes, that's how it was at the beginning.
Jim Axelrod: In the beginning -
Eva Baisey: Yes. … He is very quiet. "Hi Eva. I'll inject this into you." And "Bye, Eva" ... straight to the point and out of my room.
Jim Axelrod: How did that relationship develop?
Eva Baisey: I think he was happy that it was a success. ... So it got a little more open ... And finally, you know, it just came out of its shell.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: I've learned to love Eve and accept all parts of her.
Jim Axelrod: "I love you" is not a standard practice between a surgeon and a patient.
Dr. Ed Lefrak: No, I don't think I've ever had such a relationship with any other patient.
Dr. Lefrak wasn't the only one who fell under Eva's spell.
Mary Beth Maydosz: She is so grateful and kind. You feel valued so appreciate back.
February 14, 1987
Almost two months after Eva Baisey got so close to death, she was finally given permission to walk out the doors of the hospital.
A smiling Eva Baisey preparing to leave the hospital almost two months after her heart transplant. / Credit: Inova
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: The day she was ready to go home ... The whole team was there to say goodbye to Eva. And her mother was there.
EVAS MOTHER | LOCAL NEWS REPORT: Just want to say thank you to everyone who helped my daughter ... it was so nice.
Deirdre Carolan Doerflinger: It was a wonderful time. I mean, that was so exciting to see her walk out that door. And knowing ... she got through this.
Jim Axelrod: When she went home, did you take a moment to think, "I've done a heart transplant now"?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: Yeah, that was a good day. I can imagine exactly how she gets into the car.
Patient # 1 went home, but it would be years before she learned the full story behind her new heart.
Eva Baisey eventually went home, but life wasn't the same. Due to the risk of infection, she was only able to see her children for an hour a day at first. And she was told she could never work as a nurse.
Gene Weingarten: Doctors were concerned that working with sick people would make her vulnerable to disease.
Jim Axelrod: The procedure that saved your life would cost you your job.
Gene Weingarten: More than her job. It would cost her her dream. She wanted to work with babies and the elderly.
Instead, Eva focused on raising her two children, Shakeyta and Antonio.
Antonio Baisey: She always asked the Lord to let us see her until 18. I think that was her main drive for staying alive ... were her children.
Stay alive, she exceeded all expectations.
Mary Beth Maydosz | Transplant Coordinator: We thought the transplant ... people would live five years. ... I think it was actually a shock for her, after five years we said to her: "You are still here, maybe you have to get a job [laughs]."
Dr. Lefrak agreed. Eva was doing so well that he changed his mind. She was finally able to work in health care. Since then she has been helping sick people deal with their health problems.
Eva Baisey ging es so gut, Dr. Lefrak änderte seine Meinung - sie konnte schließlich im Gesundheitswesen arbeiten. Seitdem hilft sie kranken Menschen, mit ihren Gesundheitsproblemen umzugehen. / Gutschrift: CBS News
Eva Baisey: Ich ... erzähle ihnen meine Geschichte über meine - wissen Sie, die Transplantation. Ich sage: "Die Dinge werden nicht immer so sein. Ich verspreche Ihnen, dass sie besser werden." Und sie tun es.
Eva widersetzte sich weiterhin den Chancen: Aus fünf Jahren wurden 10, aus 10 wurden 15 und aus 15 wurden 30.
28. DEZEMBER 2019
Dr. Lefrak [am Telefon mit Eva]: Glücklicher 28. Dezember!
Am 28. Dezember 2019 rief Dr. Lefrak seit der Transplantation jedes Jahr an diesem Tag an.
Jim Axelrod: Was sagen Sie einander in diesem Jubiläumsanruf?
Dr. Ed Lefrak: Nun, ich gratuliere ihr und sage ihr normalerweise, dass ich sie liebe.
Dr. Lefrak [telefoniert mit Eva]: Ich werde mit Ihnen in Kontakt bleiben, Eva. Ich liebe dich und du weißt das.
Jim Axelrod: Das ist also nicht nur Ihr Arzt.
Eva Baisey: Nein, er ist mein Freund ... ich nenne ihn immer noch Dr. Lefrak. Aber er ist jetzt mein Freund. Ja, ich liebe ihn. Ich liebe ihn sehr.
Und das Gefühl ist ziemlich gegenseitig.
Eva Baisey und Dr. Lefrak teilen eine besondere Bindung. Heute ist sie eine der am längsten lebenden Herztransplantationsempfängerinnen in der Krankengeschichte. / Gutschrift: Inova
Jim Axelrod: Worum geht es hier?
Dr. Ed Lefrak [emotional]: Ich weiß es nicht. Ich respektiere sie nur und werde weinerlich - sorry. Aber ich liebe sie einfach. Ich weiß nicht worum es geht. Ich habe sie einfach sehr geschätzt. Und es ist alles - es ist alles gut. Ich hoffe nur, dass sie für immer lebt.
Eva Baisey - mit einer Lebenserwartung von ein bis fünf Jahren - ist heute eine der am längsten lebenden Herztransplantationsempfängerinnen in der Krankengeschichte. Zwanzig Jahre gelten als großartig. Im Jahr 2019 feierte Eva ihren 33. Geburtstag.
Jim Axelrod: Warum geht es ihr wohl so gut? Warum hat sie es so gut gemacht und so lange gelebt?
Mary Beth Maydosz | Transplantationskoordinator: Einiges davon ist Glück und einiges ist Hartnäckigkeit. … Sie ist wirklich süß, aber wenn sie nicht ein gewisses Maß an Hartnäckigkeit, Rückgrat und Körnigkeit gehabt hätte, wäre sie 33 Jahre nicht rausgekommen.
Dr. Lefrak ging vor 10 Jahren in den Ruhestand und feierte mit seinen fünf Töchtern. Er warf seinen Pager glücklich in den Potomac und stieß auf ein nächstes Kapitel an, das er unbedingt großartig machen wollte.
Mit 76 Jahren fuhr er kürzlich ein 100-Meilen-Radrennen, das von ihm gestartete Herztransplantationsprogramm gedeiht weiterhin, ebenso wie seine Botschaft - am besten zusammengefasst von Patient Nr. 1.
Eva Baisey: Es ist in Ordnung, die Organe eines geliebten Menschen spenden zu lassen, um den geliebten Menschen eines anderen zu helfen.
Eva Baisey: Ich war naiv zu spenden, bis es mir tatsächlich passiert ist. Und ich denke, viele von uns sind es, bis wir tatsächlich jemanden kennen. Jetzt bin ich Eva und du kennst mich. Es klappt.
Erst als Gene Weingarten sein Buch veröffentlichte
Eva Baisey wusste nie die ganze Wahrheit über das Herz, das ihr Leben gerettet hat. Erst als Gene Weingarten sein Buch "One Day" veröffentlichte, erfuhr sie die ganze Geschichte. Eine Geschichte, die zu dem sinnlosen Mord an Karen Ermert durch ihren entfremdeten Freund Mark Willey zurückführte.
Jim Axelrod: Denkst du jemals an sie, Karen? Jetzt, wo du ein bisschen mehr weißt, seit Gene die Geschichte geschrieben hat?
Eva Baisey: Das tue ich jetzt. Yes. … Wäre sie eine Mutter? Hätte sie Enkelkinder? Ich denke jetzt viel an sie.
Jim Axelrod: Wenn Sie mit Karens Familie sprechen könnten, was würden Sie ihnen sagen wollen?
Eva Baisey: Es tut mir leid. Many Thanks.
Jim Axelrod: Weißt du, in der Filmversion bekommst du ihr Herz. Und im wirklichen Leben hast du sein Herz.
Eva Baisey: Mm hmm.
Jim Axelrod: Macht es für Sie einen Unterschied?
Eva Baisey: Nein. Es ist nur - es ist ein Herz. Es ist eine Orgel. It's not a murder organ. And it's just an organ that happened to save my life.
Jim Axelrod: And the story here is what the person who received the organ does with the extra years she then gets?
Eva Baisey: That is correct.
Jim Axelrod: When you heard … this woman, Eva Baisey, got a heart, and she's still alive 33 years later … does that help you make any sense of what happened?
Rich Lieb: It does. Tut es wirklich. It lightens my soul to know that somebody got a second chance at life out of the tragedy that happened.
And, so it seems, Gene Weingarten was right. There is no such thing as an ordinary day -- no way to make sense of who lives and who dies at any given time. Perhaps all we can do is treasure the memories of those now gone and thank the heavens -- and in this case, a team of extraordinary doctors and nurses -- for those who still walk among us.
Eva Baisey: And I'm still here, you know, and I just -- how blessed I am.
To sign up to be an organ donor visit the National Donate Life Registry at Registerme.org.
Produced by Liza Finley and Richard Fetzer. Mike Baluzy, Atticus Brady, Marlon Disla, Greg Kaplan and Diana Modica are the editors. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer.
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