candice: sweet 16 heart transplant celebration in downtown cleveland


Three letters make up a word we hear a lot: yes. For most people that word doesn’t mean much, but to someone who is waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, that one word means so much. And back on February 7, 2002, a family made the decision to say “yes” and gave Candice the gift of life through a heart transplant.

Fast forward to today and Candice is 16 years post-transplant– and that’s something to CELEBRATE!! And when she contacted me a few weeks ago to take photos of her “Sweet 16”, I couldn’t get her in front of my camera fast enough! For Candice’s actual 16th birthday, she was 4 months post-transplant and was in and out of the hospital suffering from rejection of her transplanted heart. Go ahead and re-read the previous sentence one more time and let that sink in for moment. Most 16 years olds are only concerned with one thing at that age: getting their driver’s license. But for Candice, she was focusing on staying alive.

I can not tell you how much it meant to me that I was able to document this special time for Candice in her transplant journey and I think she said it best: “We are not promised tomorrow but while we’re here, it’s important we find ways to live life to the fullest and celebrate these small milestones.” (I could not love this more.)

I was lucky enough to meet Candice a few years ago when I worked with Lifebanc, the non-profit in Northeast Ohio that promotes awareness of organ, eye and tissue donation. For me, the work that I was able to do for Lifebanc and the amazing people I met along the way, were the highlight of my first job.

Happy Sweet 16, Candice! I hope you have the best day celebrating your heart day!!

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I wanted to do something special for Candice for her photo shoot, so I contacted Brewnuts (an amazing donut & beer shop) to see if they could do a custom donut order! I firmly believe every birthday should be celebrated with donuts and candles!

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If you aren’t a registered organ, eye and tissue donor already, please, please consider signing up here.

  1. This is incredible! What an awesome story and beautiful session! I love the donuts and her dress is GORGEOUS!!!

    • Allison Ewing says:

      Thank you so much, Courtney!! I’m obsessed with her dress! And if you’ve never been to Brewnuts, I highly suggest it!!

  2. Ann Hanka says:

    What a beautiful story for a beautiful girl. Allison, your photographs and you’re blog is amazing.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    What a wonderful anniversary! Definitely worth celebrating!

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