Tara Kline understands that life can change in an instant. That's because hers has â€” twice.
A year after Tara, from the Twin Cities suburb of Burnsville, Minn., graduated from high school, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and told she would need a heart-double lung transplant.
"It was surreal," says Tara, who credits Mayo Clinic staff with helping her cope with the fear and uncertainty that accompanied the diagnosis.
"The wonderful thing about Mayo Clinic is that you are embraced by a team of providers that truly cares about you," says Tara, who became extremely close to her team during the eight years she spent on the transplant list.
"They are like my second set of parents," she says of the doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and insurance specialists who have supported her. "There's never been a time I felt they had anything but my best interests at heart."
Tara's life changed for a second time on April 28, 2005, when she received a phone call with the news that organs were available for transplant. Though she'd waited eight years for the call, Tara was overwhelmed.
"I kept saying, 'I can't do this, it's too much,' " she remembers. Again, her Mayo Clinic team helped her through.
"My cardiologist, Robert Frantz, M.D., and surgeon, Christopher McGregor, M.D., were so reassuring," says Tara. "They made me believe everything was going to be okay."
More than five years post-transplant, Tara knows they were right. She's finishing college, recently traveled abroad for the first time, and is able to play with her young nephew â€” all things that would have been impossible without her donor and Mayo Clinic.
"I wish everyone could be a patient at Mayo," says Tara, who continues to make the short drive from her home to Rochester for follow-up care. "You can get physical care lots of places, but what you get at Mayo is so much more. The staff are there because they truly care about their patients. At Mayo, you know you're in the best hands possible."