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Heart transplant recipient Noble dies at 20

POSTED: March 13, 2014 10:28 p.m.

Bridget Sandy laughed as she remembered how her friend and teammate LeeAnn Noble would practice hitting golf balls.

“Like, we would be just hitting golf balls on the range and she would have her playlist of all of the ‘Pitch Perfect’ songs from the movie soundtrack,” she said. “Which is really good music, don’t get me wrong! A cappella is awesome.”

The song choices were characteristic of her friend, who loved to listen to anything upbeat and positive, Sandy said.

“It describes her personality perfectly,” she said. “She loved dancing and all that kind of stuff.”

Noble, 20, of Flowery Branch died Monday at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta following difficulties stemming from a January cardiac event. She was featured in an article in The Times just previous to that event.

As a child, she was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart to become enlarged, preventing it from properly pumping blood. She received a heart transplant in 2006.

“It’s hard being a transplant recipient because you don’t want to be defined by that,” Noble said in the January interview with The Times. “You don’t want people to know. But you would be surprised by how many people there are walking around who have had transplants.”

Noble graduated from Gainesville High School, where her teachers and coaches were stymied about how she found time to get it all done, in 2011.

“She graduated No. 3 in her class while excelling in golf (and as) varsity cheerleading captain, student council officer and yearbook, just to name a few of her many activities,” her cheerleading coach Helen Perry said. “She was also on the homecoming court and prom court. She had so many friends because she was always nice to everyone.”

Noble entered the University of North Georgia as a nursing student, inspired to follow that path by her childhood experiences. She was a member of the golf team and the Sigma Kappa sorority.

She and Sandy shared a bond, not only as teammates but as former Make-A-Wish recipients. The two were even featured on the fall 2013 cover of the NCAA Champion magazine.

“The team and I are heartbroken over the passing of LeeAnn,” golf coach Leigh Anne Hunter said. “Words do not adequately express what a wonderful young lady she was. LeeAnn lived life to the fullest and always had a smile on her face.”

The college junior loved owls, the country singer Luke Bryan and McDonald’s water, Sandy recalled.

“She didn’t like Dasani or any other kind of water but McDonald’s,” Sandy said, laughing. “She just likes it from the tap there.

“She loves lemons, too. And just little things like that were typical LeeAnn,” Sandy added.

Noble was beginning spring semester at the University of North Georgia when she was airlifted to Emory University on Jan. 19 after going into cardiac arrest and suffering a head injury in the incident.

Information on the Little & Davenport Funeral Home website states the family will receive friends at the funeral home from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Noble’s funeral will be 2 p.m. Sunday at Gainesville First United Methodist Church.

“She wanted to always make the most of every moment,” Sandy said.

“You can tell through her Twitter and pretty much any social media she was on how happy she was, and how much she loved life. I only knew her for less than two years and my life has been changed greatly because of her.”


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