Mountain View Voice

News - February 12, 2010

Nothing slows her down

Mountain View resident Lizzy Craze got a new heart at age 2

by Kelsey Mesher

Lizzy Craze never wears socks that match. "Life's too short," she says.

Craze knows how short life can be: Months before her third birthday, she underwent life-saving heart transplant surgery at Stanford Hospital, becoming the youngest person in history to have survived such a procedure.

The Mountain View resident celebrated the 25th anniversary of that surgery on Oct. 8 at Antonio's Nuthouse in Palo Alto, eating chicken wings and drinking beer with family and friends.

"Everybody has a birthday. But not everyone has a ..." she paused, "second birthday."

Months after she was born, Craze was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a genetic disorder that weakens the heart, making it difficult to pump blood efficiently. Her parents had lost three children to the disease before, and her older brother, Andy, had undergone transplant surgery only a year earlier at the age of 16.

On Oct. 8, 1984, using a donor heart from somewhere in Utah, Craze became the 317th patient at Stanford Hospital to receive a new heart.

"I remember the very distinct taste of the medicine," she said of her early years. "I remember my mom would be talking to people, and I'd be running around under the table."

Though at the time doctors said Craze's surgery was experimental, she went without major complication until age 15, when rejection medication for her heart caused kidney failure. Her dad stepped in as a donor.

Today the 28-year-old must take a cocktail of medication daily, and go in for checkups several times a year. She's not supposed to skateboard, or jump on trampolines, and her doctor had to sign a release form when she decided to try scuba diving. But other than particulars like these, "I really don't think about it too much."

"The doctor's main goal is to have their patient, who was deathly ill, to lead a normal life," she said.

Aside from her regular job at Facebook, Craze now acts as a spokesperson of sorts for Stanford Hospital. She has been featured many times since her surgery, most recently in the Dec. 21 issue of People magazine.

"He called me a million times," Craze said of the reporter covering the story. "He came to my parents' house and interviewed the three of us for five hours."

When the article came out — complete with professional photo shoot — Craze said she had trouble even locating a copy on newsstands.

"I couldn't find it, I went to like three places," she said. She was heading off on a trip with her boyfriend to Fiji and Australia.

But when she came back, she said, her mom had received calls from old friends, past babysitters. Co-workers started to notice.

"The guy who sits next to me took a picture of (the article) and posted it on Facebook," she said. "Somebody came up to me at lunch (a month later), and was like, 'I saw you in People!'"

Her time in the limelight is starting to wind down, but Craze doesn't seem to mind. She keeps busy taking paralegal classes for fun, and making her own beer.

"My brother used to own a microbrewery," she said, adding that she was allowed to "intern" there during high school. Today she brews beer in the apartment she shares with her boyfriend near Showers Drive.

"My mom claims I never liked beer until I had my kidney transplant," she said, "because I got my dad's kidney."

E-mail Kelsey Mesher at kmesher@mv-voice.com ?? ?? ?? ??

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