FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (PIX11) — A Queens mom has a lot to be grateful for this holiday: she was given the gift of a new heart.

Shanel Blake, 39, had a life-saving heart transplant this summer.  Now, she’s planning a holiday with her family and grateful to be alive.  

It’s been a long journey to recovery for the Far Rockaway woman.  Twelve years ago, Blake was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure, after giving birth to her son. Her condition quickly deteriorated over the past few years. She desperately needed a heart transplant to save her life.  

Blake was hospitalized for several months.  Then she got the word she was waiting for—there was a new heart available.  This past July, she got her surgery.

Blake has special connection with the medical team who saved her life. Dr. Maya Barghash, a heart failure cardiologist from Mt Sinai hospital, was one of the doctors on Blake’s team. Barghash says Blake’s story is rare, but also a warning to other new moms.  

This Thanksgiving, Blake is thankful to have her health back. She can now watch her new granddaughter grow up. She can also now pursue her lifelong dream of going to culinary school.

Thanksgiving this year will be first time in years Blake will be back in the kitchen, cooking a Thanksgiving feast for her family.  Mac and cheese is her specialty.  Love and gratitude will be mixed in.  She’s so grateful to her doctors for making it happen.