Last year, my family and I will celebrated the 15th anniversary of my heart transplant. I was born with a congenital heart defect and had five open-heart surgeries before I was 3. I had a heart transplant when I was 6. I am so grateful to the family who gave me a heart and the chance to live.
I’m also grateful to my care team at Children’s National Hospital. They still help me even many years later. In 2019 during my sophomore year in college, I did a learning semester abroad, studying cultural anthropology in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. My care team helped ensure my safety, including helping organize my immunosuppressant medications (22 pills a day) and the right travel shots before my trip. They also set up local care and put all of my records on a disk, just in case.
That time away from home made me realize how privileged I am to have access to the best medical care. Thanks to my care team at Children’s National, I’m free to live my life — swimming with sea turtles, bungee jumping and skydiving during my semester in the South Pacific. I know this makes my family happy, especially my mom (not the part about bungee jumping, though!). Who knew that a baby born with a hypoplastic left heart could grow up to live such a full life at 22?
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