Local woman who fought rare heart condition, raised money for ‘bucket list,’ dies at 24


DENVER — A local woman who fought a rare heart condition has died. She was 24 years old.

Jennifer Ortiz grew up in Eagle. When she was 11 years old, her mother brought her to the emergency room after suffering from a cough for three weeks. Doctors found she had an enlarged heart.

A few weeks later, the then-12-year-old received a heart transplant. After several years of issues with the new heart, she was recommended and approved for a second heart transplant.

Ortiz received another heart in 2017. A third transplant was denied.

When Ortiz spoke with FOX31 and Channel 2 in September 2019, she was being kept alive by two bags called BiVADs she had to carry at all times. The bags were connected to devices implanted in each side of her heart that pumped the blood for her.

On Tuesday, Ortiz’s sister Heidi Ortiz posted on Facebook about Jennifer’s death.

“It pains me to let you all know that Jennifer has passed away this morning. I want you to all know she did so peacefully and pain free. She was the strongest fighter that anybody knew and she fought a long battle. My family thanks everyone that has reached out. We ask for privacy so we can spend time with one another today. I will keep everyone updated about the memorial services. We love and thank you all,” Heidi wrote.

The Ortiz family gave FOX31 and Channel 2 permission to share the news of Jennifer’s passing.

Before her death, Jennifer raised funds to pay for her “bucket list.” She had a number of things she wanted to do and places she wanted to see before she died. She raised more than $60,000 before her death.

“I am seeking donations to help me enjoy the best quality of life possible. I am wanting to spend more time out of the hospital and enjoy what life has left for me. Without working it does make things financially challenging. Your donations will help me cross things off my bucket list,” Jennifer wrote on her GoFundMe page.

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