14-Year-Old Girl Lives 4 Months Without a Heart (Video)

November 20, 2008 at 3:58 pm Leave a comment

dzhanasimmons.jpgFor 118 days, D’Zhana Simmons, 14, had no heart beating in her chest as she waited in hospital to have a heart transplant. Doctors believe it is the first time someone so young has been kept alive for this length of time without a heart.

D’Zhana, from South Carolina, USA, said the experience of having a machine keeping her blood flowing was “scary”.
“You never knew when it would malfunction,” she said at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Centre. “It was like I was a fake person, like I didn’t really exist. I was just here.
“But I know that I really was here, and I did live without a heart.”
The teenager was released from hospital on Wednesday after undergoing a heart transplant, her second.
She had her first on July 2 at Miami’s Holtz Children’s Hospital but the new organ failed to function properly and was quickly removed.
In place of a real heart, substitute heart chambers were implanted and connected to two pumps tailor made by a Californian company. These kept her blood flowing as she battled a host of serious complications including kidney and liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and breathing problems.
Finally she built up enough strength to enable doctors to implant another heart on October 29.
“She essentially lived for 118 days without a heart, with her circulation supported only by the two blood pumps,” said Dr Marco Ricci, the hospital’s director of paediatric cardiac surgery.
Although adults have been kept alive in such a way, he said D’Zhana is the first child to receive such treatment.
“I truly believe it’s a miracle,” said D’Zhana’s mother, Twolla Anderson.
D’Zhana suffered from the condition dilated cardiomyopathy, where the patient’s heart becomes weakened and enlarged and fails to pump blood efficiently.
Doctors believe her prognosis is good, although there is a 50 per cent chance she will need another transplant before she turns 30.
Source: The Telegraph
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