INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Thirty-five years ago this month, 38-year-old Annie Gardner walked out of Methodist Hospital as the first heart transplant recipient in Indiana.
Gardner suffered from familial cardiomyopathy, an inherited condition affecting the heart muscle. Dr. Harold Halbrook performed the transplant on Oct. 31, 1982. Gardner was discharged from Methodist on Jan. 7, 1983. Walking out the hospital doors, she thanked her donor for the, "wonderful gift of life."
Annie Gardner's heart continued beating for 14 years. In 1996 however, Gardner's body began to attack her blood vessels. Once again, Annie Gardner found herself in need of a transplant. To make matters worse, Gardner's 31-year-old son, Ron Melvin, was also in need of a heart transplant because of the same hereditary condition.
Ron Melvin underwent a heart transplant in 1996. Shortly thereafter, Gardner received a second heart transplant in 1997. Gardner's second surgery was once again performed by Dr. Harold Halbrook at Methodist hospital.
Gardner died May 5, 2007 at the age of 63. Her son died in 2016.
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