Although Heather was diagnosed with lupus at a young age, she never stopped challenging herself physically—eventually achieving her dream of becoming a firefighter. She started out fighting structural fires before moving to California to battle wildland fires some of the most dangerous and difficult to tame. While fighting one of these intense blazes, the stress and dehydration Heather suffered, caused her lupus to flare up, ultimately leading to the start of kidney failure. She knew she wanted to fight this health crisis with the same determination she brought to battling fires, so she turned to CPMC for help.
Throughout her life, every doctor that Heather had seen—and there had been quite a few—focused on her limitations and weaknesses, even telling her when she was a teenager that she wouldn't live past the age of 25. However, the doctors and surgeons at CPMC never once stopped believing in Heather, and they gave her so much hope and confidence that for the first time, she believed she would not only fully recover, but also go on to live a long, healthy life.
She underwent a successful kidney transplant in August 2006. Within one year, she was back in such excellent physical shape that she was given the green light by her doctors to return to fighting fires. Today, she is once again doing what she loves for the Forest Service. Heather says that the doctors, surgeons and nurses at CPMC gave her more than health—they gave her a future she never knew was possible.
A kidney transplant gave her a fighting chance at life. Her doctors gave her the confidence to believe she could return to fighting fires.