“I am so thankful for my donor—I wouldn’t be here without him and his family’s decision to donate his organs. Dylan, my donor, is a part of me now and sometimes I don’t know where he stops and I begin,” says heart transplant recipient Nykia Julien.

Most transplant recipients feel lucky that they received one transplant. Nykia was lucky to receive not one, but two heart transplants.

In 2015 Nykia was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and early stage heart failure. A case of walking pneumonia in 2017 worsened her condition. After a stroke on Mother’s Day in 2018 that further damaged her heart, Nykia was hospitalized and received her first transplant in July. Unfortunately, the transplant was rejected almost immediately and she was put on life support, ultimately needing to be revived twice.

Amazingly, less than three weeks after her first heart transplant, Nykia matched for a second transplant from Dylan, and in August received her second gift of life.

Initially, Nykia’s transplant recovery wasn’t easy. Due to the stroke and length of time on life support, she had to relearn who she was and how to do things that most people take for granted, like walking.

Today, with a perfectly functioning heart, Nykia is back to enjoying life and doing things she wasn’t able to do for years, such as running, swimming, and traveling. In the years prior to her transplant, she wasn’t able to travel, but since recovering from her transplant she has been to Miami, Houston, Minneapolis, and Las Vegas.

“I want to share my story so that people will be open to being organ donors. There are so many people that are afraid, but one donor can save so many lives,” says Nykia.