An Update on Sharlie

As many of you know, Sharlie underwent a successful double lung and heart transplant on February 16th. So many of you have offered your thoughts and prayers through this process and I want you to know how much that means to Sharlie and Ryan, to me, and to the rest of our family. I really do feel like USANA is family, and the support that we have felt from all of you has been so touching that words can’t begin to express our gratitude.

Sharlie is recovering. She is getting stronger and improving every day, and she is looking forward to beginning the next stage of her healing and strengthening process at Sanoviv. The past two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts during this time with all of you. The following are excerpts from updates that I sent to my family over this process.


It is early Saturday morning, February 18th. I just realized as I typed that sentence that 39 years ago today I was in labor. My oldest son, Dax was born in the early hours of the morning on February 19th and it took me over 24 hours to bring him into the world. How is it possible that was 39 years ago?

Truly, I feel a bit like I’ve been in labor over the past couple of days…at least from what I remember, the pain the anguish, the doubt, fears and then the faith and hope and the ultimate unspeakable JOY! Yes, from what I remember all those years ago, the past couple of days has been quite a bit like labor. Sharlie is re-born! She lives; she breathes; she smiles; she cries; she squeezes our hands and she whispers over and over again with tears rolling down her cheeks, “I’m so grateful!”

I can’t begin to describe or express all we’ve witnessed over the past couple of days. There have been sacred miracles too profound to speak about along with laughter that doubled us over. The range of emotions has been staggering.

I know many of you have been following on Facebook so you’ve seen pictures and read updates. Thousands of friends from around the world are following Sharlie’s story. There is something about this exceptional woman…she inspires everyone, especially me.

So much I want to say. How I wish I could express the feelings of my heart to the donor’s family. Someday, I hope they’ll meet precious Shar. That they’ll know that through their grief, so much light and life came into the world.

I’m off to the hospital; but simply wanted to thank you all again and express my love to you. Please forgive my scattered thoughts. Someday, I’ll get it all out. For now…my daughter awaits; alive; and I’m so very, very grateful.


I am sitting by her bedside, clearly understanding why this amazing machine is called a “laptop.” Technology. Blessed technology. As I watch all the monitors flashing the good news – blood pressure normal, heart rate normal, oxygen saturation – perfect, automated I.V.’s dripping their protection against rejection into her veins; I am struck once again by the sheer immensity of it all. The advancements in science and technology that are being utilized to monitor each precious moment of life.

As a teenager in the mid-60’s, I remember my father showing me a newspaper headline trumpeting the first human heart transplant. Surely this was science fiction! Now, some 45 years later I watch Sharlie’s chest as it effortlessly rises and falls, her new heart beating a perfect rhythm, sustaining her life. What would I have thought, I wonder, if I’d known my own daughter would one day be a heart/lung recipient? A miracle.

A couple days after the transplant I was in the ICU when a member of the surgical team stopped by. He explained he was the surgeon who had “harvested” the organs from the donor. He wasn’t allowed to give me much information but he did tell us that Sharlie’s new heart was bigger than her old. Not possible. Well, maybe possible from a physical perspective…but not possible from any other standpoint. Sharlie already had the biggest of hearts…but as this good doctor explained – “if she had a 250 horsepower engine before, she’ll now be operating with a 350 horsepower engine.” He assured us this would be a very good thing as she begins to exercise, to get fit. A super-charged engine! How awesome is that?

It’s the little things…Sharlie keeps telling me this. The first time she was able to hold her hands under warm, running water she asked if she could just stand there a minute, feeling the water running through her fingers. Her first, shaky steps – several of us supporting her as tears flowed and she gave us a trimphal “thumbs-up.” Last night my sweet sister Sydney (a former nurse and second mother to Shar) helped me give Sharlie her first bath since coming into the hospital. The warm cleansing cloths the nurses provide have been okay…but to have a basin of very warm water, all her favorite Sense products, and to luxuriate in the simple act of us washing and rinsing her hair was almost more pleasure than she could bear. Shar proclaimed it was the best she’d ever felt. Uh…I don’t think so; but Sydney and I certainly felt validated and indispensable! Sharlie has a way of making everyone feel special.

She’s waking. More later as she continues along this remarkable journey to recovery. Thank you for your concern and love. We appreciate each of you so very much.

To keep up with Sharlie’s progress, please visit her Facebook page and her blog.

Thanks to Dave Wentz for this special message to Sharlie…

And to Dr. Oz as well…

Thank you for your continued prayers, your support, and your friendship.



4 comments… add one
  • Beanie Leffler

    Dear Collette,
    I was just sitting back on my chair and was looking at the picture I had taken with you at convention 3 years ago. Dr. Wentz and Dr. Ladd and myself I have them framed you are truly my hero. I have prayed hard for Sharlie every time something would happen. So now this Sunday I will be running in a snow shoe race and it will be for Sharlie when ever I run I pray the rosary I feel that is why God gave us 10 fingers. It will be a challenge we just recieved a foot of snow and it is all through the woods but by praying for Sharlie I know I can do it. I can’t thank you enough for keep all of us posted on her condition I was very thankful to see she is going to Sanoviv I was there and it is the most peaceful place I am sure whe will get the best care ever.

  • Dorie from Farmington, NM

    We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the things He planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

    Sharlie, He has truly created you anew in Christ Jesus. By the mighty power of the Holy Spirit that lives in me, wholeness is declared and proclaimed for you, In His Precious Name.

  • Dear Collette – your words are so poignant and heartfelt and show how much of a wonderful Mother, Grandmother, friend and so much more that you are. You have always been a HUGE inspiration to me in Usana – not just because of the successful businesswoman you are but more importantly because of the wonderful human being you are. Thankyou so much for sharing your very emotional and miraculous journey with Sharlie’s surgery and road to recovery. Your daughter Sharlie is such a credit to you and she is a true Angel – just like her Mama. My husband Marcus and I with continue to send you all healing wishes and our heartfelt prayers for a full and happy recovery for Sharlie. God Bless you all – Love Romela & Marcus McLelland xxx

  • Dear Collette
    Thank you for sharing your news. All the best to Sharlie and you all.
    You inspire us and make us laugh Collette!
    I have vivid memories of you walking into Robert’s hospital room in San Diego – just in time to take a photo of us all before the family went back to New Zealand.
    Love and prayers

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