A fundraiser planned for today in Hastings will benefit a Hastings High School graduate facing a long road to recovery following a heart transplant on March 10.

Lindsey Blum, 33, now of Omaha, has seen her life turned upside down since May 2018 when a virus attacked and damaged her heart, said her sister, Sara Blum of Hastings, who is organizing the benefit at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 2810 W. Seventh St.

Lindsey’s initial bout with the virus led to a two-week stay at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. Her heart’s pumping capacity had dropped to 15%, and her kidneys and liver had begun to shut down.

Medication alleviated the initial crisis, but complications followed. By February, her heart was going into atrial fibrillation and a cauterizing procedure was required. By the second half of February, her heart was pumping just 10% of capacity and Lindsey was placed on a heart transplant waiting list and hospitalized, with life expectancy of just four to six weeks if no donor heart became available.

The 12-hour transplant surgery on March 10 went well, but Lindsey has battled through some tough times since then, her sister said, with her body trying to reject the new heart. Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic added to her distress by cutting her off from visitors to the hospital — even her husband, Craig Petersen.

Lindsey finally was released from the hospital recently, but has much more recovery ahead. Meanwhile, she won’t be able to work for at least another year, and the bills are piling up as her husband tries to make ends meet for the couple.

“We’re trying our best to help them out as much as possible,” Sara said.

Lindsey and Sara are daughters of Terry and Sharon Blum. Both women grew up in Hastings and graduated from Hastings High School.

Lindsey worked as a dog groomer before becoming ill, her sister said. She and Craig have no children, but their extended family includes nephews Carson and Tyten.

Today’s benefit will run from 4:30 p.m. to 8 or 8:30 p.m. and will include food and a silent auction, Sara said.

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