A woman isn’t missing a beat after having a heart transplant.
A New Zealand woman is going viral after revealing that she keeps her old heart in a plastic bag — and the heartwarming reason why. Videos detailing her unorthodox memento are on TikTok.
“I always knew having my heart and educating about organ donation would be controversial,” Jessica Manning, 29, told NeedToKnow.online of the reaction to her ghoulish-seeming keepsake, which she stores in a bag in her bedroom as though in an Egyptian canopic jar.
Manning’s heart-rending saga began after she suffered several heart defects from the time she was born, including having half a heart, which she analogized to “cookie dough.”
The Kiwi subsequently underwent 200 cardiovascular procedures, including two open heart surgeries before she was 3.
“My biggest heart surgery was my Fontan, which connects the heart to the pulmonary artery using a tube, that was almost like a reconstruction of my heart,” said Manning, who, at one point, was only given two years to live.
Salvation finally came when she received a heart via donation at the age of 25.
Feeling the need to give back, Manning initially contributed her original ticker to science, Jam Press reported. However, 10 months later she was told they didn’t need it, so she decided to hang onto the heart-ifact.
Naturally, holding on to a heart might evoke some lurid ritual ripped from “Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom.” However, the kind-hearted woman has a very honorable reason for keeping it — she wants to honor the donor who saved her life.
“When I purchase a house I want to bury it and plant a tree on top and dedicate it to my donor,” Manning explained. “As a transplant recipient, it’s almost impossible to put into words how thankful we are not just to our donor but to the donor’s family.”
She added, “Achieving my goals and doing all the things I love is to celebrate that my donor is still living.” In other words, her heart literally goes out to him.
In the interim, Manning is keeping the original organ in a bag filled with preservative fluids in order to keep it from “breaking.” “I used to keep it in my wardrobe but now I store it in a drawer on my desk,” explained the proud gal, who thankfully didn’t need to keep her blood pumper in the fridge as it was already preserved.
“It didn’t sit well with me that my heart would be near my food!” she explained of avoiding the embalming technique.
Accompanying videos show Manning clutching her bagged heart like supermarket steak. “Today I resealed the bag so it’s no longer leaking,” in one of the clips.
Although done with big-hearted intentions, Manning’s Aztec-evoking practice has unsurprisingly sparked mixed reactions among the TikTok commentariat.
“WHY DID I THINK IT WAS A COOKIE BEFORE I READ THE CAPTION,” wrote one gawker, while another commented. “This is so insane,” spluttered another.
“The heart wants what it wants,” quipped another TikTok wit, while another wrote, “Most of us keep our hearts on our sleeves, but you’re taking it to a new level.”
Some commenters even suggested that meaning “keep it in a jar” or “send it to your ex with a dramatic message.”
Despite the tsunami of trolls, Manning claims that “90% of people love it and find it really interesting.”
“There’s only a small percentage of people who think it’s weird or strange,” insisted the New Zealand native. “The people with the negative comments usually come across my page randomly and don’t take time to watch any of my other videos to understand why I kept it, or what I had gone through to be here today.”
Along with digitally wearing her heart on her sleeve, Manning also regularly in a bikini so fans can see her surgery scars.
“I am a very confident person, I adore my scars and the story they tell,” she declared. “I love to wear a bikini to show them off, and if I’m not in a bikini I show them to people anyway.
Manning added, “I may not pass ‘society’s beauty standard’ but I know what I have gone through to get these scars and I’m so proud of myself which is why I love my scars more and more each day.”