iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — A Seattle teen says she feels “awake” again after getting a heart transplant the day after celebrating prom in the hospital.
The surgery was eight years in the making since Isabella Anderson was told at age 10 that she would likely need a heart transplant to stay alive. Diagnosed as a child with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Anderson’s heart muscle was thickened causing the organ not work effectively.
“It’s pretty uncommon,” Anderson told ABC News. “The way I was describing it was one of [hearts] muscles was thick, but as time progressed the entire heart was dilated.”
For the first years of her illness, Anderson’s doctors were able to keep her mostly out of the hospital with a careful balance of monitoring and medication. But starting last year, Anderson’s condition started to quickly decline. Doctors implanted a special defibrillator aimed at keeping her heart beating in a regular rhythm and this year Anderson suffered a stroke in March. While the stroke symptoms were not permanent, doctors felt she was no longer well enough to stay outside the hospital.
“I declined very rapidly, I had an extremely normal seven or eight years of childhood and then I got sick very fast,” Anderson said.
The teen’s health decline also coincided with her senior year of high school. Earlier this month, Anderson said she was pretty upset on her prom night.
“I was feeling the difference between me and my peers,” Anderson said. “That day it was really hard. Sometimes it just hits you how different you are,” from other students.
To cheer her up, Anderson’s mother and other staff in the ICU conspired to put together a little surprise. Anderson’s mother brought over a dress and her sister did the teen’s hair and makeup.
“I was really excited about it and it was great, then surprise after surprise,” Anderson said. “The ICU doctor … his wife had made me a flower corsage and he brought me some sparkling cider and some little champagne flutes. For me that was one of the best moments.”
Anderson’s favorite nurse was even able to sneak her and her family to the hospital’s rooftop garden after closing hours.
“It was even more awesome when we got up stairs,” Anderson said. The nurses and staff “told me their proms stories and [Anderson’s favorite nurse] Danny had never had a prom. So we were joking that we each other’s prom dates.”
Afterwards, Anderson said she felt so happy, she was no longer bothered by the fact she missed her own prom.
“That night, I told [my mother] that was just what I needed and now I can wait,” Anderson said. “The next morning the doctor comes in and says, ‘We have some news for you.'”
After months of waiting, heart was finally available for the teen.
“I was less nervous than I thought I was going to be,” Anderson said of the heart transplant operation. “I really have a lot of trust in these people.”
After waiting eight long years, on June 7 Anderson got a new heart. The teen said after she woke up she could tell almost instantly that her new heart was working more effectively.
“It’s kind of been like I’ve been woken up again. My mind has sprung back into action,” Anderson said. “When you’re so sick, you kind of let things go. You can’t care about things so much.”
Anderson said now she actually has energy to walk up stairs or start a political conversation. Most importantly the teen is finally getting out of the hospital just in time to go to her graduation tonight.
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