Local woman receives second chance at life after rare heart condition, husband paying it forward

In November of 2018, a 24-year-old newlywed was dealt a card in life that no young woman should have to accept. Unlike most 24-year-olds in the prime of their lives, Violette Gubler was tired every day, had difficulty breathing normally, and was experiencing severe chest pains. 

After a series of tests, it was determined that Gubler had a rare genetic heart disease that was causing an enlarged left ventricle. This discovery, while devastating, helped to explain the loss of a parent and a sibling – both at relatively young ages. The discovery of her own condition also led her to learn that two-thirds of her family have the same predisposition to this rare condition. 

While having answers created a greater understanding of her health and the health history of her family, Gubler now faced a difficult road ahead, including the need to be placed on a heart transplant list. What made matters more challenging was that being placed on the transplant list is a small step toward receiving a transplant because heart transplants are based on health needs, and not on who has been on the list the longest.

Fortunately, doctors equipped her with an LVAD, a “Left-Ventricular Assist Device” to help her while she waited for an available donor heart. An LVAD is a type of medical pump that is used by patients with end-stage heart failure. The device helps the left ventricle pump blood throughout the body, and it kept her heart pumping for 30 months. Because in February 2023, a donor heart became available. 

After over two years waiting, Gubler was elated.

“Holy Smokes! Is this real?” she recalled saying when she heard the news.

As she arrived at the hospital, the pre-transplant work began, then the actual medical transplant of a human donor heart to the recipient. During the next four days, Violette remained unconscious with her medical incision open, but sealed with plastic to discourage an infection. 

The incision remained open in case of a potential need for medical access to the area – a common procedure in the world of heart transplants. The very first thing she remembered when regaining consciousness was seeing her family members in the hospital hallway. 

Over the past six months since the transplant, Gubler has a new lease on life, and her husband Chase Gubler said that she has the “most energy that he has ever seen.” And while they have not been in contact with the donor’s family due to some protocols, they wanted to express gratitude for them taking that step to be a donor.

This experience has another silver lining, as Chase Gubler has seen firsthand the love and care that medical professionals have administered to his wife, and he has taken the steps toward beginning nursing school in the coming months.

Kevin Jennings
Kevin Jennings
Husband to one - Dad to six - Grandpa to five - Friend and Neighbor to all.

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