They received heart transplants on the same day in the same hospital. Then they fell in love.
Theirs is the most improbable of love stories — but the heart works in mysterious ways.
Taylor Givens, 29, and Collin Kobelja, 34, received heart transplants on the same day at Virginia's Inova Fairfax hospital in 2011 and were recovering in neighboring rooms. It was Givens' first transplant after she suffered viral cardiomyopathy, while Kobelja was receiving his second transplant after he was born with a chronic heart condition.
"There were really no romantic sparks at first because we were both miserable," Givens said.
Five years later, they reconnected on the anniversary of their heart transplants. Kobelja was back in Virginia visiting doctors at the hospital and reached out to Givens.
They went to dinner and caught up on what had happened since they saw each other in the hospital. The two hit it off, Kobelja said.
"It was cute because we had to take our medicine at the same time, the same medicine," said Givens. "I definitely felt a spark and I wasn't expecting that at all."
They started dating and married in 2019. They now live in Maryland.
"It was great to start dating someone who you don't have to explain anything to," said Kobelja. "You can just live your life in a normal way."
For both of them, their physical limitations and mental outlook were barriers to dating. But they had no need to explain to each other why they couldn't do something or why they had a lot of doctors appointments because they already understood.
The couple has since faced serious health challenges and know more are ahead. Kobelja had his fourth heart transplant last year and Givens is in remission from lymphoma.
But having each other makes facing the challenges easier, they said.
"Having him beside me, I'm not as afraid of things, even things like my mortality," Givens said. "I see him existing and making it through these transplants and thriving, and it gives me a new sense of hope and purpose."
Kobelja said they're stronger because of it.
"We've both been through essentially one of the worst experiences you can go through in life," he said. "It definitely feels like anything else life throws at us, we can handle."
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