1/18/2013 4:10 PM
In April 1989, I was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, transposition of the great vessel, septal defect and coarctation of the aorta. I had my first heart surgery at five days old at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. I was only given a fifty/fifty chance of survival. This was the first of a two-staged surgery. I would have to have another one around two years old. I came home after ten days but had to be fed through a tube placed in my nose.
At three and a half months old, I required another surgery which was not one of the original planned ones. During this surgery, the nerve to my diaphragm was damaged and I stayed on a respirator in ICU for seven weeks. Just after my first birthday I had another heart surgery. This time I almost died in the OR. When I was twenty-three months old I received a heart transplant. Before the surgery I was a blue color, only having an eighty-five percent oxygen level. My parents said I immediately turned a nice healthy pink color after I got my new heart.
The first year after transplant was intense for my mother and I because she had to make numerous midnight trips to the hospital when I was sick. In time, the trips decreased. I suffered mostly from sinus troubles and ear infections. I grew and attended pre-school, even rode the bus to school my first day of kindergarten.
I have learned to swim, snow ski, water ski, and has seen forty-nine of the fifty states and thirteen countries in Europe. I have been a member of Team Georgia at nine of the Transplant Games. In high school, I was a manager for the football team and played tennis for four years. I began college but had to withdraw when an infection settled on the site where my first surgery was done.
At the point of death, I went into surgery again to have my aorta replaced. I recovered faster and with less difficultly than anyone expected. A few months later I needed a pacemaker for a slow heart rate. I am now twenty-three. I'm back in college studying business. I'm also engaged to the love of my life and plan to marry in 2014. My mother wrote a book about my experiences.