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Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital performs 50th heart transplant

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 4:31 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is celebrating a huge milestone.

In December, the hospital performed its 50th heart transplant.

17-year-old Ella Morrissey underwent the life-changing operation.

At just 10-years-old, Morrissey learned she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

“I was running in fifth grade, and I fainted,” Morrissey said.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle is thick, making it hard to pump blood. In Morrissey’s case, the disease was genetic.

“I couldn’t go on a roller coaster, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t do any sports,” she said.

The high school senior from Kansas says her quality of life has improved after receiving a heart transplant at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

“Our job as the medical service - the heart transplant medical service - is to evaluate the patient, and decide whether or not they’re a transplant candidate,” said Chief of Pediatric Cardiology Dr. Jeffrey Towbin.

Ella’s condition deteriorated significantly before she was placed on the transplant list.

“She started having arrhythmias in higher and higher frequencies,” Dr. Towbin said.

Transplant Cardiologist Director Dr. Hugo Martinez and a team of doctors helped Ella and her family prepare for the major surgery.

“Having a keen understanding on what’s going on in the mind of a teenager is crucial,” said Dr. Martinez.

Morrissey felt ready for the procedure thanks to her team of doctors.

“They made it feel like you were going to be ok,” she said.

On December 5 she received her heart.

“Once you have a new heart and the pump is working like a very new engine, then she’s going to have a better quality of life,” Dr. Martinez said.

Morrissey recovered quickly and is now able to do high-energy activities.

“My friends would come to visit, we’d start dancing, and I would be the last one dancing. They would have to sit down and take a break and I would just keep on dancing. I was like, ‘This is nice. I like this life,’” Morrissey said.

Morrissey is considering studying elementary education or becoming a nurse after she graduates high school.

Now, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is on its way to becoming a Center of Excellence under the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, putting Memphis on the map once again.

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