Shelton’s Allison Christensen Wins Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Heart

Seahawks wallet
Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson (in pink) visits Allison Christensen at Children's Hospital in Seattle.


By Kate Scriven

shelton dental centerEleven-year-old Allison Christensen has lived in Shelton all her life.  She has been a healthy and happy girl, and a major sports fan, since she was little.  The sixth grader plays soccer, basketball, fast-pitch and runs cross-country.  So when she couldn’t shake what her family thought was the flu this past June, her parents knew something was up.

Allison’s family doctor prescribed rest and fluids, a normal response to her stomach pain and body aches.  She improved, then worsened over the next six weeks and the doctors were a bit stumped, but not overly concerned.  However, Jovie Christensen’s “mom radar” was going off loudly and she listened.  She took Allison to the ER at Providence St. Peter’s Hospital on July 20.  Physicians performed ultrasounds and chest x-rays revealing major problems with Allison’s internal organs, specifically her heart.  It was enlarged and surrounded by abnormal amounts of fluid.  An ambulance was called and the Christensen’s were rushed to Seattle Children’s.

seahawks wallet
The Christensen family is very close, including the three siblings from left, Allison (11), Nicole (17), and Christian (13).

“It wasn’t really sinking in at this point, how serious this was,” recalls Jovie.  “I just listened and made decisions, moving forward with the doctor’s recommendations.”  Upon arrival in Seattle, the gravity of the situation became clear.  The staff swarmed Allison as she arrived, assessing her condition.  “The doctors had me sit down, never a good sign, and said that my daughter was critically ill.  She would be at Seattle Children’s for at least two weeks,” she continues.  “But they added that for her condition, it was odd she was talking with the nurses and doctors.  She just shouldn’t be talking, she was that sick.  But I know Allison and she’s so strong.”

The diagnosis was heart failure and after attempting to stabilize Allison with medications, it became clear that she would need a transplant.  “The whole time, she keeps saying she feels fine, she’s not sick,” says Jovie.  But Allison was very sick.

By this time, the Christensen family had gotten settled in the Ronald McDonald House near Seattle Children’s, their home away from home, and were familiar faces to the staff at Seattle Children’s.  Allison, a big sports fan, had heard that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson visited kids each Tuesday at the hospital and asked a nurse if she could meet him.  Of course, Wilson is extremely popular with the patients and the list for a visit is fairly long.  Allison waited, but he didn’t come that week. “It was ok,” said Allison. “I know there are lots of sick kids and he was probably seeing the sickest first.  I’m didn’t feel that sick, so it was ok.”

Seahawks wallet
Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson (in pink) visits Allison Christensen at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

In the meantime, Allison’s weakened heart was deteriorating.  She was critical and doctors placed her on the transplant list with a 1A status – the highest possible.  However, with wait times typically near a year, they planned surgery to install a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), to help her heart function better and provide a bridge to transplant.  The Christensen’s continued to wait.

Her LVAD surgery was schedule for Friday, September 27.  On Tuesday, September 24, Russell Wilson walked into Allison’s room.  “The first thing he said to her was, ‘Hey Allison…how are you beautiful?” recalls Jovie.  Allison was having a hard day and didn’t feel well, but that day, Allison forgot her pain.  “I thought she was going to have a heart attack!” laughs Jovie.

Allison had a gift for Wilson – a wallet, made with Seahawks themed duct tape, that she had crafted hoping he’d visit.  “She was hesitant at first,” shares her mom.

“He’s got lots of money, so I thought he probably has lots of wallets,” explained Allison.  But Wilson was ecstatic.  Not only did he love the wallet, but he and wife Ashton had never seen one before.  Allison felt badly that she hadn’t made one for Mrs. Wilson, as she really loved it, but they assured her it was ok.   They were thrilled and made Allison feel amazing that day.

seahawks wallet
Shelton resident, Allison Christensen, made Russell Wilson a wallet from Seahawks-themed duct tape. She is selling more wallets to help defray the cost of her medical bills.

Wilson posted a picture of his wallet to Instagram.  He took it to his next press conference, sharing Allison’s gift.  When he shared it with a Seattle news team, Allison was pretty sure that he liked it.

Late into Tuesday night, and through the next day Allison, her 17-year-old sister Nicole, and her parents were still talking about Wilson and his wife’s visit.  At 10:15pm on Wednesday, September 25 the phone rang in Alllison’s room.  “I thought it was odd, because it was so late,” explains Jovie.  “We were watching a video on the LVAD surgery and I picked up the phone.  It was the doctor.  Allison had a heart.”

Allison had been matched to a heart in record time.  Never before had a patient at Seattle Children’s been matched so quickly.  Allison thanks Wilson.  “I think he’s my lucky charm,” she shares.

Allison entered surgery the next morning and the procedure went perfectly.

Allison had her new heart, and had captured the heart of the Seahawk’s star quarterback as well.  With so many kids to visit, Wilson usually just swings by once.  It was a surprise when Wilson and Ashton showed up again the very next week.  “Allison felt so badly that she hadn’t been able to make a wallet for Ashton,” shares Jovie.  Of course the Wilson’s didn’t mind – Allison had just had a heart transplant five days before.

seahawks wallet
Russell Wilson, and his wife, Ashton, visited Allison Christensen three times. On this visit, they brought her a new tablet.

Allison’s recovery has been smooth and fast.  Her appetite is back as is her energy.  Feeling better, she was able to complete a wallet for Ashton, this time in pink Seahawks Duct Tape, perfect for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  She asked the nurses to pass the wallet along to the Wilsons that Tuesday when they visited, but they didn’t have to.  Russell Wilson visited for a third week in a row, not able to stay away from this magical girl and her new heart.

This time Wilson brought something for Allison – a new tablet for her to use during her long recovery.  Allison and her family were overwhelmed.  And, as Allison passed the pink wallet to Ashton, everyone felt that a bond had been created.

Allison may have a new heart, but she still carries with her a love of life and generosity of spirit that everyone, including Russell Wilson, is drawn to.  While she has a long road ahead of her and a lifetime of care for her new heart, she is on her way to recovery.  Maybe the next time she meets up with Russell Wilson she’ll be playing a game of catch, her new heart beating strong.

Friends of the Christensen family have set up a donation site to help offset the mounting medical expenses.  If you are interested in helping Allison’s family with a donation, click here for more information.  Allison is hoping to sell her wallets, as well, to help cover costs.


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