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Woman awaits new heart after friend gets one
Dawn Contreras has followed longtime friend Amanda Schulte's progress through a heart and lung transplant.

Seeing Amanda's progress has been a source of strength as Dawn, 23, herself awaits a new heart.

"Seeing how great she's doing has me really excited," said Contreras, a young mother and wife who attends the Healing Place church in Hughson. "She's doing great. It's hard for me to keep up with her now."

Dawn and Amanda, of Ceres, have been friends since meeting at a birthday party when Dawn was about nine. The two formed a bond of friendship after learning they were both living with heart conditions. Dawn was born with a congenital heart condition and has already undergone numerous open heart surgeries. Her condition has worsened and her heart is not pumping correctly and there is no medical cure. A new heart is necessary.

Amanda, 25, a lifelong Ceres resident, underwent a six-hour heart and lungs transplant operation on July 17 at Stanford Medical Center. Both organs were degraded due to pulmonary hypertension.

Since May 27 Dawn has been waiting for a donor heart. Doctors expect a heart to be available in about a month through the UCSF Medical Center's Waiting4aHeart program.

Being in a holding pattern for a life-changing event like heart surgery has been a confusing time for Dawn and her husband, Dawn.

"It's a weird feeling, like kind of excited, kind of scared - a mixture of everything," she said. "God has a plan for me and it's all going to work out."

She looks forward to being stronger - if her outcome is similar to Amanda's - and being able to work around the house.

"Gabe takes care of me and our three-year-old daughter. And he works around the house. I have a hard time cleaning and doing household chores."

Once she receives the new heart, Dawn will be required to stay in the hospital and then at housing in the Bay Area for six weeks. Medical insurance has the procedure covered but the Dawn, and Gabe are not prepared for the living expenses associated with the stay.

Theie church will be helping to raise money to help Dawn cover her expenses through a Barbecued Chicken Benefit Dinner fundraiser held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30. The event will be held at The Healing Place Church, 7781 Fox Road, Hughson. The chicken meal, served on the premises or in a take-out container, is $10 per person. The goal is to sell 500 tickets. Donations are also be accepted on Dawn's behalf at the Bank of the West in Hughson or at the church.

For tickets contact The Healing Place Church 883-4977.