Lacey Wood

Lucky Lacey Celebrates 25 Years of Life

If there ever was a reason to celebrate, Lacey has two!

A two-time organ transplant recipient, Lacey is marking the 25th anniversary of her first transplant—a heart—in two special ways: by running the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in Lisbon, Portugal later this month, and simultaneously, raising funds to benefit Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.

“The House was there for me and my family when we needed it the most,” says Lacey. “I wanted to celebrate this special occasion by doing something for families who are going through what we experienced.”

Lacey’s incredible story of beating the odds began when, as a ten-month-old infant, she caught a devastating infection that permanently damaged her heart. Her doctors, believing the situation to be hopeless, told Lacey’s distraught parents to take their daughter home and enjoy what little time they had left together. Undaunted, Lacey’s mother, Colleen tenaciously pursued every possible alternative. She called doctors and hospitals throughout the country, searching for a glimmer of hope.

Eventually, Colleen’s determination lead the family to Stanford Children’s Hospital (now Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford), where Lacey became one of the very first 18-month-old infants to undergo a successful heart transplant. For many months leading up to the surgery and countless visits during the years following her recovery, Lacey’s family knew Ronald McDonald House at Stanford as their home-away-from-home.

“I have so many incredibly fond memories of the House. For me it was a magical place, filled with fun activities and friends,” Lacey recalls.

Aside from her daily medications and frequent visits to the hospital for routine biopsies, Lacey grew up happy and as healthy as possible, and always looked forward to staying at the House. Lacey especially loved spending time in the CLIK room (Computer Learning for Ill Kids), where she first learned to use computers.

While in high school, Lacey’s kidneys, exhausted by the harsh side effects of years of medications, began to fail. Valiantly, Lacey’s older brother Tyson, then only 16 years old and a perfect donor match for Lacey, volunteered to give his sister one of his own kidneys.

As with her heart transplant, the kidney transplant was also a great success. After her recovery, Lacey went on to graduate from high school, and later, from DePaul University. Lacey has put her education and first-hand experience as an organ recipient to practical use through her work at a nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization. In her leisure time, Lacey enjoys exercising and staying fit, and under her doctor’s careful supervision, trained and completed her first half marathon last year.

Now, nearly 25 years after her first transplant—which in itself significantly defies the average heart transplant life expectancy—Lacey is grateful for the years she has been given and the people and places that have helped make that possible.

“I live a life of gratitude,” says Lacey. “Every day is truly a gift, and I am grateful to my family for their unflagging support, my brother for the gift of life, my heart donor for the same, and Ronald McDonald House at Stanford for always making us feel at home.”

Help Lacey reach her goal of raising $25,000 to benefit children and families at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. Learn more at her fundraising site.

Every day, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford offers accommodation, programs, and support to families with critically ill children receiving medical care at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Please help us continue to realize our mission of providing a home-away-from home environment for families by making a donation or becoming a House volunteer.