AUSTIN (KXAN) — They were the perfect match from the beginning: San Antonio resident Jamie Jennings knew her heart wasn’t full until she adopted a child — baby Grace’s heart was missing something too.
Grace was born with endocardial cushion defect.
“She basically had a huge hole in the middle of her heart,” Jamie says.
Jamie knew it would be a challenge but said she knew she wanted to raise Grace and help heal her heart.
For years, Grace tried to live with her failing heart but by the time she was in sixth grade she went into heart failure at school. After medics performed CPR on her for two hours, Jamie says she was told Grace wouldn’t make it.
With the help of Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Grace survived with a heart pump she carried around every day, her life depended on it but her heart was still too weak. A few weeks later she was back in the hospital after having a stroke.
In January, Grace and her mom were giving a life-changing opportunity at DCMC. Doctors said they had a new heart for her.
“I got a new heart transplant,” says Grace. “I got a new heart so I don’t have the bad one in me.”
She’s now 13 and doing things she never could before without struggling to breathe. She can play sports, sing and take deep breaths while riding her skateboard that she can control.
A whole new feeling of relief replaces the hole in the heart she was born with.
Grace wants to walk in the American Heart Associations Heart Walk this weekend to encourage people to raise awareness and money for heart research.