A life of love and strength


Photo submitted: Samantha Moore, a 2009 Belen High School graduate, died April 11. Moore suffered from a rare heart condition, restrictive cardiomyopathy, and received a heart transplant in 2007 to combat the disease. Moore’s two siblings, one of whom died in 2008, also suffered from the same disease.

Samantha Moore, a 2009 Belen High School graduate, was beautiful, happy and full of life.

The 21-year-old mother, along with her two siblings, suffered from the same rare heart condition, restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Samantha received a heart transplant at the age of 15 to counteract her disease becoming worse with age, but on April 11, she lost her battle and passed away.

“I never thought she would be going this quick,” said Refugia Moore, Samantha’s grandmother and adoptive mother.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, April 23, at Our Lady of Belen Memorial Gardens.

Samantha, who moved to Pocola, Okla. after graduation, leaves behind an 18-month-old son, Aiden Jay Moore.

Refugia said she can see traces of Samantha in Aiden’s personality.

“He’s a little devil,. He’s just as mischievous as Samantha was and he smiles all the time, the way Samantha did,” Refugia said. “He reminds me a lot of Samantha and has her characteristics … He’s just as adventurous as she was.”

Samantha showed her love for Aiden by covering her walls with pictures of the two together.

“From the day he was born — just born, she had the walls lined up with pictures of her and the little boy,” Refugia said.

The two were inseparable and went everywhere together.

“She just loved him, and she gave him everything,” she said.

Samantha, the oldest of the three siblings, exhibited the worst heart condition, which took Refugia and her husband, Raymond, by surprise.

“We hadn’t suspected anything,” she said. “We used to go for walks all the time, but she never complained about anything.”

Slowly, Samantha’s condition began to deteriorate with her heart beginning to shut down and later swelling and retaining fluid.

Around her 16th birthday in 2007, doctors said it was time for the teenager to get a new heart at The Children’s Hospital Heart Institute in Denver.

And throughout the entire ordeal, Samantha remained optimistic and upbeat.

“I’m scared,” she told the News-Bulletin in March 2007. “Lately, I’ve been having nightmares, but I want to be able to play tennis here next year.”

She added she wanted to be a pediatric psychologist.

Her younger sister, Brandi, received a heart transplant less than a year after Samantha. Brandi’s body later rejected the new heart, likely the cause of a virus, and caused her death in December 2008.

Although Samantha wasn’t ill before her death, Refugia believes Samantha’s body rejected her heart transplant, too.

“We haven’t received an official diagnosis yet from the autopsy, but my opinion is that she went into acute rejection, because she had the same symptoms that Brandi had,” she said.

As a child, Samantha was funny, loved wearing hats and was “a little devil,” says Refugia.

“She would get into trouble, like climbing the walls, fighting with her brother, and she just loved to make herself up to play like she was a movie star,” she said, smiling as she looked through photo albums of her children.

While living in Oklahoma, Samantha participated in school and church choirs out of a love for music. While living in Belen, she was also a member of Our Lady of Belen choir.

She learned to play the violin, guitar, piano and banjo in an effort to one day become a nun.

“She really enjoyed the church songs that we sang and we practiced all the time at home,” she said. “She would go out on the porch and she would play her violin and great Gary would strum the guitar and we’d sing out on the porch.”

In school, Samantha had a competitive edge and worked diligently to get straight As. Samantha came in as a finalist in science fairs and was published as a young poet in a children’s literary collection.

“She could do almost anything,” her mother said. “I can’t tell you enough about her, but she was a very smart kid. It was tough trying to keep up with her.”

The young mother loved her brother and sister more than anything, Refugia said. Samantha had promised Refugia that when Refugia passed away, she would take care of her siblings and have her own place.

“Samantha wanted to be very independent, and she was independent and a go-getter,” she said.

Upon graduation, Samantha moved back to Pocola, Okla., to live with her biological father and make it on her own.

-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.