Meet Heather Bastardi, the Heart Failure/Heart Transplant Program coordinator.
How did you choose nursing as your career?
My mom was a nurse. Watching her and her dedication was my inspiration. Another influence was one particular science teacher during my junior year of high school who pulled me aside and said, “You seem interested in the medical field and I think you should pursue it.” She encouraged me to look into nursing as a career.
How did you choose transplant as your specialty?
My first nurse practitioner job here at Boston Children’s Hospital was a joint appointment to cardiac surgery and cardiac transplant. As a nurse, I always had a love for cardiology and didn’t have extensive experience in transplant. Once I had the exposure to transplant and all it entails, I found it very interesting.
How did you become a transplant coordinator?
When the opportunity to be a full-time transplant coordinator arose, I jumped at it. I’ve now been a transplant coordinator for 18 years. I like the opportunity to follow children through a whole process, as opposed to just an intermittent event in their lives. It is amazing to be able to see the continuity, watch them grow and follow them for years.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It is a privilege to see these amazing kids go through such trials and tribulations and still be able to remain ‘a kid.’ As a transplant coordinator, you are handholding in different ways throughout this process. We form these relationships and bonds that I don’t even know how to describe, but it’s something I can come back to every time I see them — even when there are gaps of time when I haven’t seen them. Then I see them again, and I’ve still got this connection, which has allowed me to do my job better.
What are you most proud of?
I have seen the program grow tremendously since I have been here. To have been a part of that process and that growth gives me a sense of pride. We went from a few patients a week in clinic and one or two inpatients to a full outpatient and inpatient services for both heart failure and heart transplant patients.
How has transplant changed over the course of your career?
There has been a lot that has changed over the course of the years. Everything from the severity of illness to interventions and therapies available to the increase in volume has changed. Seventeen or 18 years ago, certain patients may have never actually received referrals to our program because they were too sick to even be referred for transplant. But now, since there has been significant advancement in heart-failure management and transplant itself, many more people are brought to us. We are often the last opportunity or hope for these children and families.
If you weren’t a transplant coordinator, what would you be?
I think I would work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We hear about the glory and excitement kids get from their wishes. To be a part of that process would be phenomenal.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I couldn’t spell it, but that’s what I wanted to be. I love animals and grew up with dogs.
What hobbies or interests do you enjoy outside of work?
My children and my extended family. I have an 11-year-old girl, a 9-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. Cooking is also one of my favorite things.
Did you grow up in New England?
I am from Scituate, Massachusetts. I went to school in DC, and after I graduated I went to work in New York and then got my masters degree while working in New York City. I always knew I would come back to New England.