Samantha Remington started out her life as a fighter. Before she was born in 1992, a virus attacked her major organs during a critical time in her development. Samantha was born five weeks early and had to have a choledochal cyst that was wrapped around many of her organs removed.
When Samantha was recovering it was discovered that her heart was defective.
Her parents were given the news that Samantha would not live to see a year if she did not get a new heart. At four months, she was given a new heart and a new chance at life.
At 14, she had corrective spinal-fusion surgery for scoliosis, and in January 2010 doctors found Samantha's new heart was failing, and she would need a second transplant.
In May 2010, her symptoms worsened, and she was listed as needing a life-saving transplant.
Samantha waited five days for her new heart, and again, thanks to families that donated organs, she was given life.
Now, Samantha is leading a pretty normal life. She goes to college, and she loves it.
Her family has started the Samantha Angel Heart Foundation to help other children and families that are also struggling to pay for transplants.
"The cost, even if you have insurance, the out-of-pocket cost is enormous," Barry Remington, Samantha's father said. "When you go through a situation like that, you can obviously imagine the stress level that just caring about your daughter, wondering if she's going to make it, and then at some point; reality hits and, even if you have great insurance, there's nothing covered at 100 percent anymore. So there's a lot of money out of pocket. Each year it can be $20,000 to $30,000 bucks just out-of-pocket."
The idea for the foundation came from Samantha's uncle Pete Benedetti as a way to help Samantha and other families.
On Tuesday morning, the first family to be helped by the Samantha Angel Heart Foundation received a check given to them by Samantha at the Children's Hospital in Aurora.
The $2,000 check will help Garret Ross and his family pay for his second heart transplant.
"[Garret] has faced a lot of the same medical challenges financially that our family has, so we're really excited to give back," Brigitte Remington, Samantha's mother said. "It feels really good."
Even though the Remingtons had not met the Ross family until Tuesday, Brigitte Remington felt a special bond with them.
"You really do create a bond, just knowing what you go through, and we know what they've been through," Brigitte said."It's just really good to feel like we're giving back, and the medical costs really take a toll on the family."
All proceeds of the Samantha Remington Foundation go to help pay medical expenses of families like the Ross' and the Remingtons.
"We are just hoping to help other families," Brigitte Remington said. "There are so many bad stories out there, and you feel sorry for families. This is a great way to feel good about life and to enjoy it and to give back to other families."
To learn more about the Samantha Remington Angel Heart Foundation visit http://www.sammyangelheart.com/.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)