NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - After almost a lifetime of health problems, a Timpson woman is living each day to its fullest following a heart transplant five months ago.
Danquein Horton's journey from facing death to now having to be told to "slow down" is an inspiration to all.
Horton, "Dee" to the friends, family, and co-workers surrounding her this day at the Surgery Center of Nacogodoches, is always greeted with love.
"I think I have the greatest co-workers in the world," Dee said.
Suzanne Graupman, Dee's close friend and co-worker, is blessed to have developed the strongest bond with the surgical technician.
"I think we were kinda spontaneous combustion at work," Suzanne said. "We always had fun."
The fun was interrupted when Dee's heart gave out more than two years ago. She was 32 at the time. Dee had survived cancer twice, once at age 13 and later at 20. The chemo and radiation treatments beat the cancer but eventually caused heart failure.
"I either had to have a new heart or a LVAB heart pump to pump my heart for me," Dee said.
Dee quit her job and moved to Houston to wait for a heart transplant. The artificial heart kept her alive.
"That was Dee Jr. Because that was the second me." Dee said.
Family formed "Dee's Angels." The one Dee could count on the most was her daughter, Damija Davis, who is now 12.
"All the time that I've been going thru this she's been right by my side," Dee said. "She spent her entire summer in the hospital with me. I tried to get her to go home. Tried to get her to go visit people. Tried to get her go to birthday parties. She never left my side."
Hospital staff at Hermann Memorial Heart and Vascular Institute became Mija's newfound friends. Eventually, the family moved to a completely furnished home provided for free by a friend of Suzanne's.
"Totally God's hand on this," Suzanne said.
The biggest blessing was the call that a match had been found. It happened right after Dee had told her mother no call will come until we pack our bags.
"She hadn't said that five minutes and then the phone ringing and that's when she got the call," said Donna Fletcher, Dee's mother.
A family was donating a young girl's heart. The transplant was a total success.
"You can hear it just thump really fast," Dee said.
With each beat, a devoted daughter knows she won't be losing her mom.
"I just want to thank her parents for allowing them to give her heart to my mom," Damija said.
Dee is hoping to someday thank the family in person. A best friend can understand why.
"You know always talk about people having a good heart. Well, she doesn't have that heart anymore," Suzanne said. "She had a bad heart. She had a weak heart and so I really believe that it's not the heart is the thing that makes a person, it's their spirit. And she has an amazing spirit."
Dee's strength continues to grow. A goal is to return to work in Nacogdoches by this summer. Meanwhile, she shares her testimony to encourage others to participate in an organ donor program.