Why I’m Here

By Miranda Ruark, administrative assistant, Critical Care Medicine

Miranda Ruark (l) and Sam Jameson

For as long as I can remember, making a difference in the world has been my driving force. With a biology background, I knew I could make this difference through science, but I didn’t know exactly how—until I met a girl named Sam. Sam was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was a toddler and had a rare type of bacteria in her lungs. She was told that eventually she would need a double-lung transplant to survive. When I met Sam, I had no idea she was battling CF until she told me. She could breathe on her own, and I couldn’t see her ever needing a transplant.

As the years went on though, Sam’s lung function began to rapidly decrease, and her lips were a permanent shade of blue. She went from being able to go out whenever she wanted to being restricted by an oxygen machine named Penelope. Through it all though, Sam’s faith and spirit never wavered. She spoke and volunteered when she could at LifeCenter and became a hometown celebrity who was frequently interviewed by news outlets. I quickly began to see just how badly Sam needed a new pair of lungs and worried they wouldn’t arrive in time. Then one day, Sam got the call.

Sam was flown to Cleveland where she underwent a double-lung transplant. After an extensive recovery, she was able to do things she hadn’t done in ages. She could run, travel out of the country and even got to marry the love of her life. Sam had two magical years before the complications began, which included a cancer diagnosis and treatment that damaged her new lungs.

We all prayed that Sam would recover and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, life isn’t a fairytale.

Through it all though, Sam’s faith and spirit never wavered.
I held her hand and said my goodbyes, thankful to be able to tell her how much she meant to me.

On August 15, 2017, I drove to Cleveland to see my dying friend. Sam had decided she was done fighting. I held her hand and said my goodbyes, thankful to be able to tell her how much she meant to me. The next day, Sam was taken to the Hospice in Maysville, Kentucky, where she passed away surrounded by her parents and husband.

When Sam died, I was lost and angry. After everything she had been through, Sam didn’t even get to see her 30th birthday. About six months after Sam passed, I began looking into careers related to organ donation and cystic fibrosis research. Unfortunately, because I had been out of the science field for a few years, finding a science-related position was proving difficult. So, I began looking for administrative assistant positions at science and health-based companies. I figured with my experience as an executive assistant, it was a good way to get my foot in the door.

After months of job searching, I finally accepted a position with Cincinnati Children’s as an administrative assistant in the Division of Critical Care Medicine. During the interview process, I met with the doctors in our department and found out that the PICU works very closely with LifeCenter due to the number of organs that come from the unit for transplants. Some of the doctors had even met or heard about Sam! I knew this was where I needed to be, where Sam wanted me to be.

Working at Cincinnati Children’s has already opened so many doors for me in the short time I’ve been here. I’ve been able to attend the LifeCenter Community Breakfast with one of our doctors to watch Sam’s parents present the Samantha Jameson award to one of their staff members and have even identified my next potential position within the department. I plan to get my Masters in the near future and hope to continue towards a path of clinical research.

Cincinnati Children’s was Sam’s home away from home for many years. She loved the staff here, and I know that made a huge difference in her life of struggles. I hope that by working here, I, too, can make a difference in someone’s life, in honor of the difference Sam made in mine.

I knew Cincinnati Children's was where I needed to be, where Sam wanted me to be.

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