Our Stories

Vinnie's transplant

When Lavinia ‘Vinnie’ Brooks was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, her life took an unexpected turn.

She started having difficulty breathing and experienced extreme fatigue, headaches and chest pains. While the diagnosis came as a shock, it was just the beginning of the difficult journey ahead for Vinnie and her family.

The gravity of Vinnie’s diagnosis eventually became very clear. As she recalls, "I was sitting with my son Tony when I suddenly felt dizzy. The next thing I know, my face was on the floor and I was lying in a puddle of blood."

After collapsing three more times, Vinnie was rushed to the hospital and told her heart was too weak for her to leave. She would need a heart transplant.

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"One of the most difficult things was seeing my son outside the ambulance window, not knowing if I'd ever come home."

Lavina "Vinnie" Brooks

Enter OneLegacy, an Organ Procurement Organization that recovers organs and tissues for life-saving transplants. 


OneLegacy works closely with transplant teams who fly in to conduct time-sensitive donation surgeries. To make sure all these operations are safe and reduce the risk of organ rejection for the recipients, they gather a number of tubes of blood before each

procedure to check for infectious disease, organ function and to determine what their HLA profile is.

None of this testing would have been possible without Thermo Fisher Scientific who make the HLA tests.

Peter Diep, Director of Product Management at Thermo Fisher, states its importance: “HLA testing is a vital part of the process so patients and donors are matched and determined to be compatible.”

Not only has this testing transformed organ donation locally, but it has also left a mark nationwide. It’s become the go-to system and methodology for all organ donors and transplant recipients across the country.

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“One of the most difficult things for me was feeling as though I was waiting for someone to die, so that I could receive a new heart. But then I began to realize, I was waiting for someone to live.”

Lavina "Vinnie" Brooks

After 6 long months in the ICU, Vinnie finally received a new heart. The drumming of her failing heart had been an unwelcome soundtrack to her life. Yet, emerging from the anesthesia, she awakened to an unfamiliar, blissful quietude.

Thanks to the dedication and collaboration between OneLegacy and Thermo Fisher, Vinnie now looks forward to embracing life's precious moments - a future she once feared would never be possible.