We are reminded that life is a gift. Psalm 139:14 declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is this truth that challenges us to live life victoriously and with a purpose. In short, life is worth fighting for. Let us tell you of our daughter’s fight for life…
Our daughter Lexi was an active, seemingly healthy child. Dancing was her passion, and she took hours of classes every week. However, a few years ago Lexi began to experience symptoms of dizziness and light-headedness. On a couple of occasions, she even blacked out. Never one to fuss or complain, Lexi just carried on…
It wasn’t until the spring of 2016, during Lexi’s annual physical with her pediatrician, that her fainting spells were mentioned, which caught the doctor’s attention. She ordered an EKG and the results led to further testing and a referral to a pediatric heart failure and transplant cardiologist at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
Lexi was ultimately diagnosed with a rare form of restrictive cardiomyopathy — the walls of her heart were stiff and did not allow it to pump properly. Doctors informed us that Lexi would need a new heart, and until then her condition would be managed with medication and a modified lifestyle, making dance no longer an option for Lexi.
Lexi was placed on the heart transplant list in October 2016, at the age of 15.
TIME WAS RUNNING OUT
Unknown to us, time was running out. Lexi’s sick heart did not give her the opportunity to wait patiently for a new heart to become available. Instead, it deteriorated rapidly and suddenly, forcing her precarious situation to the front of everyone’s minds.
On February 3, 2017, Irene was unable to wake her for school. At some point during the morning, Lexi’s heart had gone into cardiac arrest and stopped working. Her skin was ashen, her lips were blue, and there was no movement.
Todd immediately performed CPR on Lexi for about 10 minutes while waiting for first responders to arrive. It took paramedics an additional 17 minutes to acquire a faint pulse. Lexi was rushed to a local hospital where she was stabilized and then transported to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
Her life now depended on a new heart.
A few days after arriving at the hospital, Lexi went into cardiac arrest again. In order to save her life, doctors had to perform an emergency surgical procedure to keep her alive…a procedure that offered only a 10% survival rate. Lexi survived this procedure. A few days later, she survived an additional open-heart surgery to attach an external device to take over the functionality of the left portion of her heart. Even after this surgery, for the next 30 days Lexi’s heart repeatedly went into ventricular fibrillation, a lethal arrhythmia. Each time, medical staff would use a defibrillator to shock her heart back into rhythm.
Through all of this, our only hope and solace was found in prayer and our faith in God, as we waited for a donor heart to become available.
A HEART FOR LEXI
On March 5, we received the news we had been hoping and praying for — a heart had become available for Lexi.
After 32 days at Children’s Hospital in a medically induced coma, Lexi was transplanted with a new heart on March 6, 2017.
After her heart transplant, Lexi spent 35 days in post-transplant rehabilitation. After so many days in the hospital, in and out of consciousness, and on life support, Lexi had to relearn how to walk, stand, eat and talk. Over time she regained her strength with therapy.
LIFE AFTER TRANSPLANT
Going forward, Lexi will have a new normal. She takes anti-rejection medications daily and is monitored closely by a team of transplant specialists. But, she now has hope for a future.
Lexi doesn’t remember much of her time at Children’s Hospital prior to the transplant, but she recalls waking up, confused, with her parents by her side. Lexi recalls the moment she learned of her transplant: “I asked if I was going to need a transplant and my dad said I already had one. I started crying,” she said. “Waking up with a new heart was very surprising. I’m grateful to the donor family for allowing their child to give me such a wonderful gift — the greatest gift ever.”
Lexi’s story is just one of many. Regardless of the details and circumstances, each person has a story to share. Each story ultimately resolves in the conclusion that we have been made on purpose, for a purpose. We are fearfully and wonderfully made…