In a stunning photo, a woman is shown holding her own heart following a heart transplant. The woman, identified only as Penny, received a new heart from a donor.
On the image-hosting site Imgur, a user, KelseySnuffaluffagus, uploaded a photo of her friend wearing a surgical mask holding a heart. The caption read, “This is my friend Penny. She is holding her own heart. She has survived cancer and crippling heart failure but never lost hope.” The stunning image naturally swept through the Internet and spawned hundreds of comments.
The original poster was able to provide more information in the comments section, although the entire story is still incomplete. In the first update, Kelsey commented on the context of the photo, saying, “This is her after her successful heart transplant. She's my hero. It's a very powerful image.”
Many of the commenters on Imgur would have wanted to keep their own heart if they had the choice. While Penny is seen holding her heart, the hospital would not let her keep it. Kelsey said, “She wanted to keep it but they wouldn't let her! I said the same thing. It had to be cremated, but she kept the ashes.”
Unfortunately there have been no updates from Kelsey, and the details surrounding the story are sketchy at best. Kelsey does not go into detail about the donor situation, the location or the hospital. Naturally, some of that information could possibly get the doctors, if the photo is real, into some trouble but that seems unlikely.
This is not the only photo of an individual holding their heart to be found on Imgur. In fact, a photo of a man holding his own heart was posted seven months ago. The photo, of Brian Linkenhoker, who passed away a month after the post, shows the young man holding a heart that was incredibly large. This naturally led to plenty of questions on Imgur and Reddit. One commenter on Reddit, claiming to be a heart surgeon, said, “It is not and has not been my experience that a patient would keep or see their own heart after the operation. The specimen goes to the pathologist and is usually sectioned (cut open) for analysis, gross and histology (macro and micro). A portion may also go to research. The heart he is holding has been preserved for a while and infused with a resin to maintain its integrity for teaching purposes, usually gross anatomy. All I can say from this picture is that he underwent surgery through a sternotomy about 5 days - 2 weeks ago. He received 3 chest tubes which would likely have been a cardiac operation. It may have been a transplant or a valve operation by his age. This is likely an office follow up visit.”
Considering it's the Internet, an incredible photo, or story, can easily turn out to be a hoax. But for now, the photo of Penny stands for strength and courage despite seemingly impossible odds.