Kelly Perkins became the first heart transplant patient to reach the summits of some of the world's tallest peaks. Gayle talks with Kelly and her husband, Craig, about their inspiring story and the importance of organ donation.
A healthy, athletic woman with no family history of heart disease, Kelly was just 30 years old when she discovered she had contracted a viral infection that was attacking her heart and threatening her life. At the age of 34, Kelly received a lifesaving heart transplant that she says only motivated her and her husband to live each day with even more energy and conviction. Avid mountain climbers, the couple decided to keep doing what they love and went on to scale such peaks as Mount Fuji and Mount Kilimanjaro.
In The Climb of My Life: Scaling Mountains with a Borrowed Heart, Kelly writes about the challenges the couple faced but also shares a message of hope and survival. "My book is really a love story—it's about love for life and love for Craig and our journey, our struggle together," she says.
In addition to mountain climbing, Kelly and Craig say they are passionate about spreading the word on organ donation. They encourage those considering becoming organ donors to discuss their wishes with family members. For those still unsure about donating organs, Kelly says education is key. "If you're fully educated on it and you really do look at it in its entirety, then you will feel compelled to be a donor."