This Valentine's day marks eight years since Hailey Steimel received the gift of life through a heart transplant. Hailey was born with a congenital heart defect and her heart began to fail on her at the age of 16.
Hailey waited six months before she received her heart transplant. During that time, she could not find any books relating to organ donations or heart disease. She wanted to change that.
“I thought it would be a good idea to write one for kids who are waiting for a transplant or kids in the hospital with any illness to give them hope," said Hailey.
Hailey turned her dream of writing a children's book into a reality. On February 2nd, her book, "A Heart on Valentine's Day" hit the shelves.
“Because I got my heart on a holiday that is known for hearts, I think it's just really important to share the message of congenital heart disease and organ donation," said Hailey.
She received help from another author who is a living kidney donor.
The book tells the story of Hailey's journey to get a heart, brings awareness to organ donations and heart disease and honors the life of her donor.
“It was really amazing to see it come to life. The front of the book was really important to me. To show myself holding a heart and you can see my scar," said Hailey.
Following her transplant, Hailey graduated from Upper Iowa University with a degree in Communications. She currently works and continues to write. She said a second book is not out of the question.
On top of her busy schedule, Hailey, and her family volunteer with the Iowa Donor Network. Her family has put in over 250 hours sharing Hailey's story.
Strategic Communications Specialist, Heather Butterfield, said by sharing her story, more people are inspired to become donors.
"When someone shares their own personal connection to donation, that can have the biggest impact on inspiring someone else to donate for the first time. We never know, every time Hailey shares her story whether that's in person or on social media, just how many people she has inspired to become donors themselves," said Butterfield.
To become an organ donor, you can sign up at the DMV, while registering for a hunting or fishing license or online with the Iowa Donor Network.
You can purchase "A Heart on Valentine's Day" here.