Taylor’s Story

Heart Transplant Provides Hope for Flint Michigan Teen With Cardiomyopathy

Friends and family will tell you that Taylor of Flint, Michigan has a big heart.  That’s a personality trait to admire, but it can also mean a life-threatening condition for individuals like Taylor who were born with an enlarged heart.

Taylor was born with cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick or rigid making it impossible for the heart to pump blood effectively. For some children, the heart rhythm becomes disturbed, leading to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).

Taylor’s heart was failing and in 2001 at the age of two, she had her first heart transplant at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Center.

Her transplanted heart served her well for several years but in 2017, as part of routine monitoring, it became evident that her transplanted heart was not functioning as well as it should. 

Dr. Blake“Taylor requires a second heart transplant because the original transplant is not functioning as well in the past couple of years and this is affecting the function of other major organs like her kidneys. She also has narrowing in her coronary arteries which is another long-term complication that can occur in heart transplant patients. Taylor also had a serious episode of rejection several years ago and serious complications related to some of her transplant medications which have all affected her transplanted organ,” says Jennifer Blake, M.D. pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Taylor was put on the transplant list in June of 2017. Dr. Blake says she was found to be eligible to undergo a second transplant since her most recently developed medical issues are primarily related to her original heart transplant no longer working as well as it should.

“Taylor also developed transplant related coronary artery disease, called graft coronary vasculopathy. It is expected that with a second and normally functioning heart transplant, her other medical issues should improve. A second heart transplant can be more complicated because there are often antibodies that the patient has developed related to the first transplant which can make finding an appropriate donor more difficult. There are also issues related to the fact that the person undergoing transplant often can have other medical issues related to the original transplant and possibly side effects from years of transplant medications required to keep the patient and their transplanted organ healthy, adds,”Dr. Blake.

While Taylor waits for a new heart, she is also extremely appreciative of the care she has received from the pediatric heart experts at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the DMC Heart Hospital.

“I love Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Detroit Medical Center and the doctors and staff that have treated me.  It’s the only place I go to for my care,” she says.

“I hope this story inspires others to consider organ donation. Please donate, donate, donate. It saves lives,” she adds. 

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