Florida mom with a 'one in a million' heart condition in need of transplant

A Central Florida mom living with a rare "one in a million" heart condition is in need of a heart transplant.  She developed this condition after she gave birth to her fifth child in September 2023. 

"I just feel like God put me in this situation to teach me a lesson," said Tashawna Shepard. 

She was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy two weeks after giving birth. Living with her condition hasn’t been easy. 

"I get anxiety; I don't want to be around people. It’s hard for me sometimes to get dressed, to get out of bed, to cook, to clean," she said.

She found out she had these health issues when she began to experience severe pain in her back.

"It's different from other people because  I wasn't (having) shortness of breath, but it was just my back. I was having extremely bad pain, and it was like I was paralyzed," she said. 


So she went to the hospital. Once she went in, she was admitted, and her doctors told her she had an enlarged heart.

While she waits for a transplant, Shepard was outfitted with a medical vest – officially known as the ASSURE System – which acts as a wearable defibrillator and will shock her heart if ever needed. If can also pinpoint her location so first responders can find her quickly.

"If I'm out and about or at a theme park, they can actually track me and find me if my heart stops if I'm out with my kids or anyone," she said. 

It’s a temporary fix while she waits for a new heart, which can cost nearly $1.6 million without insurance.

One organization, Help Hope Live, is looking to help Shepard get the heart she needs and provide financial support throughout the process.

"There are expenses like relocation, but it is also food that you need while you are there, and supplies that you need while you're there, and day-to-day living, and it could be transportation to and from the hospital," said Help Hope Live Executive Director Kelly Green. They have fundraisers set up on the site where people can donate to support Shepard's treatment, as well as other patients.