Teri Lynn Martell-Hagner
Organ Donor
12/13/55 - 2/26/90
Memorial Herman Hospital Houston, TX



On February 26, 1990 my world was completely flipped around. My healthy mother, Teri Lynn Martell-Hagner, at the young age of 34 died suddenly from a brain
aneurysm. I was only 8 years old, and my sister was 16. Our mother was completely in love with us and we always had a great time doing girly things with us. My sister would tell you that she was her best friend and her rock. My mom and I would had fun doing girly things like manicures, cooking and baking, dancing while we cleaned house, and watch movies.

Now, 20 years later my family has come to know Art Spanjer, the man who received her heart in a transplant in Houston. We always knew she had a strong heart and now Art has helped us to prove that to be true. With the help of  Life Gift: Organ, Tissue & Eye Donation, Art was able to contact us on the 20 year anniversary of the transplant. My family had no idea there were any survivors from her donations still and were overjoyed to find out that someone was still living.   

Art was young too, at 36 years old, he was blessed with the news that he was up on the the list for the heart transplant. Soon after, doctors at Methodist Hospital implanted her heart into Arts chest. Days earlier, he couldn't do the simplest tasks without losing his breath. He would choose the elevator over the escalator at his office, where he worked as an account manager for a media company. He couldn't roll a bag from the door to the car. His health had been deteriorating since a bout of rheumatic fever damaged his heart and left him with the first symptoms of heart disease at 22. Three weeks after the transplant, he ran up the escalator at his office and say, "I was exhilarated,". He discribed my mothers heart as, “strong, healthy, and gave me a surge of exhilaration almost as soon as it became mine. I was grateful, but had no one to thank. I hoped to prove myself worthy.”

The heart, from a relatively young donor, likely helped in keeping Spanjer alive for 20 years, something that less than 20 percent of heart transplant patients achieve, said Dr. Jerry Estep, medical director of the cardiac transplant program at Methodist.

There is no question that my family considers him family and that he is more than worthy of the donation. My sister and I meet up with Art and his wife Lisa multiple times throughout the year for dinner and various family events. We are so happy that something so positive came out of what we lost.

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