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Teaneck Hospital Worker, Transplant Patient Is Young At Heart

Myrtis Moore, 54 of Hackensack, works at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.
Myrtis Moore, 54 of Hackensack, works at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Moore sits at the desk in the surgical unit at Holy Name — exactly where she was in August 2008 when she received a call that she had a match.
Moore sits at the desk in the surgical unit at Holy Name — exactly where she was in August 2008 when she received a call that she had a match. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

TEANECK, N.J. — The heart of a would-be 25-year-old man beats inside of Holy Name Medical Center employee Myrtis Moore.

She doesn't think about it often, but the lime green bracelet she wears on her right wrist reminds her.

It reads: "New Jersey Sharing Network," an organization and community she became a part of when she received her heart transplant in 2008.

"God gave me a second life for a reason," said Moore, the materials manager for the hospital's operating rooms.

"So that I can help someone else."

Moore tells her story from the same desk she was sitting at when she received the phone call that changed her life: she had a match.

"It all began when I was here at Holy Name, working, and I started to feel very tired every day," said Moore of Hackensack. "And that wasn't really me.

"I'd get home and I wanted to go straight to bed. I'd sleep from 4 in the afternoon until 7 the next morning, when I had to work."

Growing up in Georgia, Moore was an all-around athlete. Being tired all the time was never problem she had faced.

Several months went by before Moore discovered she was slightly anemic. The iron the doctors gave her was supposed to be the cure-all.

Things only got worse.

First came the heart palpitations, then a new doctor. The final puzzle piece to try was heart-strengthening medication.

Nothing seemed to work.

In May 2008, Moore's name was added to a long waiting list of heart transplant patients.

"I was going back and forth with my husband — we were floored," said Moore, a grandmother.

"I had so much to live for, and he didn't want to lose me."

She stayed in the hospital for a month, lying in the bed and listening to the beeps on the machines she was hooked up to.

"There were a lot of prayers," Moore said. "You go back to your upbringing and you think about what your parents would do if the shoe was on the other foot."

Eventually, Moore was given the option to go home. But that wasn't exactly where she wanted to be. Moore returned to work — IVs and medication in tow.

On her husband's birthday, Aug. 13, 2008, the call that Moore had been waiting for finally came.

With tears in her eyes, Moore announced the good news to the staff. A nun rounded the corner and the team huddled for a prayer session. One of Moore's colleagues offered her a cross from her mother to take with her.

Moore's husband, Gregory, picked her up and together they headed down Holy Name's winding driveway and out of Bergen County toward Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

It suddenly seemed so surreal — so scary.

"You're lying in a bed wondering if you're going to make it out of surgery," Moore said. "I was thinking, 'They're going to cut me open, take out my heart and valves, and replace them.

"And I'm supposed to live?"

"Well," she said with a smile, "I did."

Moore will be honored at the NJ Sharing Network's 5K race on Sunday, April 2 at Bergen Community College.

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