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Bionic Bride brings message to Austin

AllyCat is living proof of heart treatment success | She wants others to give back. Leslie Rhode

AUSTIN (KXAN) - A Houston woman known as the "bionic bride" wants to spread her message of heart health and giving back.

In 2008, Ally Smith Babineaux was an athletic freshman at Texas A & M in Galveston, but suddenly learned she had cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens the heart muscle. That was just the beginning of her long road that is nothing short of a miracle.

Babineaux, who was in Austin over the weekend, got the nickname "bionic bride" when she got a mechanical heart powered by batteries. Right before she had the device implanted, she had gotten engaged to Mike Babineaux, and her dreams that were about to come true took a dramatic turn.

"He asked me to marry him in September and a week later, exactly a week later, I found out that everything had hit the fan and shattered -- that I wasn't getting better," said Ally Smith Babineaux. "I was actually getting worse."

The mechanical heart gave her and her heart the strength to get through the wedding ceremony. Ally carried the batteries to her mechanical heart or LVAD in a bag next to her wedding gown. She celebrated into the night, even dancing with her new husband.

Just a few months after the wedding, she took a turn for the worse. Doctors at The Texas Heart Institute in Houston put her in a medically induced coma. For weeks, Mike stayed by her side.

"There were days when I couldn't handle it," said Ally. "I could kind of see his heart break just seeing the pain that it was causing me. A lot of it was he was my rock. I leaned on him when I needed to. I cried all over his shoulder if I needed to, and he was just there to say everything's going to be okay."

Then the "bionic bride" became the "miracle bride." One day when she was strong enough, a donor heart became available. The woman who was not supposed to make it got another chance at life.

Since the heart transplant, Ally says life is better than ever. Her and her husband are back home in Corpus Christi, but they will never forget the people who got her through it all, especially the woman who gave her a healthy heart.

"I'm so thankful," said Ally. "I appreciate that person being born that day they were born, because I wouldn't be here. There's a reason for everything."

Ally says her "reason" for being here right now is to tell others about the importance of giving back. She will deliver that message at the American Heart Association's Heart Ball on Saturday night in downtown Austin. The event helps raise money for treatment and research.