A woman who underwent a heart transplant at 22 years old has visited her old heart, now on display at the Hunterian Museum in London.
At university, Jennifer Sutton realized she was struggling with moderate exercise, the BBC reports. Soon, she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy – a rare condition where the heart's chambers stiffen over time – and would need a heart transplant to survive. Her health continued to deteriorate, but in 2007 a donor match was found.
After the transplant, Sutton gave permission to the Royal College of Surgeons to display the heart she had from birth, hoping to raise awareness about heart conditions and organ donation.
"The minute you first walk in you think 'that used to be inside my body'," Sutton told the BBC.
"But it's quite nice too – it's like my friend. It kept me alive for 22 years and I'm quite proud of it really. I've seen lots of things in jars in my lifetime but to think that's actually mine is very weird."
Sutton had visited the heart before, when it was first displayed by the Wellcome Collection in 2007.
"Seeing my heart for the first time is an emotional and surreal experience. It caused me so much pain and turmoil when it was inside me. Seeing it sitting here is extremely bizarre and very strange," she said at the exhibition, seen by the Salisbury Journal. "Finally I can see this odd looking lump of muscle that has given me so much upset."
"It's tremendous it has become such an object of fascination and will get people thinking about the disease, heart transplants and organ donation."
Now 38 and still in good health, Sutton visited her heart again.
"It's been 16 fantastic years and I wouldn't have had any of them without my donor," she told the BBC, urging others to consider becoming an organ donor. "I'm incredibly busy, active and keeping this heart as healthy as possible - keeping myself going for as long as possible."
The heart is currently on display at the Hunterian Museum.