Pinwheels planted at Wexner Medical Center represent lives saved by organ donation

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Thousands of pinwheels are shining bright for all to see in front of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

More than 9,000 were planted Sunday to represent each transplant surgery at the hospital since 1967.

On Sunday, NBC4’s Elyse Chengery sat down with a patient named Tiffany Machlitt who had a heart transplant just 3 months ago.

Sunday’s event is symbolic to Tiffany because it was just one year ago she was inside the hospital room watching the pinwheels being planted as she waited to be matched with a heart donor.

“I thought to myself, ‘I hope next year I will be here,’ and I am,” Machlitt said. 

A year later, she’s standing proudly in the middle of all the pinwheels she hoped to see this year – as one of the thousands to have a organ transplant at OSU Wexner Medical Center.

She says her first of 8 heart attacks — yes, 8 — was when she was 26 years old. Her last one was in 2016.

“I never drank, smoke, or did drugs. It was just bad genetics,” Machlitt said. 

“How had you survived 8 heart attacks?” Chengery asked her.

“By God and the will to live,” Machlitt responded. 

Doctor told her she was in need of a new heart and that the transplant had to be within 12 months.

“I had known from my 8th heart attack I would need a new heart,” Machlitt said. “I always knew I would get a new heart when the time was right, and on Christmas day of last year… we came to OSU, started the testing, and my doctor, Dr. Sammy, said the heart was bad. I was not disappointed because I knew I would get a heart when the time was right. Fifteen hours later I get a call and the nurse says, ‘let’s do this!’ And I knew I was getting my heart.”

Her family and friends say she’s remained positive through every heart attack, hospital visit and the moments waiting for the news she would receive a heart. Machlitt said she does not know who her donor is but knows one thing for sure. 

“I get up everyday and am grateful for you, and I appreciate them everyday and I also thank God everyday for what he has given me,” she said. “I’m grateful to the donor family whoever they are for this gift they gave me I get to spend time with my family and friends and watch my kids grow up and enjoy my life.”

A pinwheel is chosen because it is 8 spokes supported by 1 stem–symbolic that one organ donor can save up to 8 lives through organ donation.

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