All Stories

Annie Johnson – Heart Transplant Recipient

 Annie was admitted to Kosair Children’s Hospital on November 11, 2010 listed as status 1A for a heart retransplantation.  On December 29th, she received her new heart.

Annie was born with what is known as an unbalanced atrioventricular canal defect.  She had holes in the septum of her heart (the center portion separating the left from right) and the left side of her heart was underdeveloped.  She also had a coarctation of her aorta.  When Annie was just a few months old, she had surgery to repair the coarctation and to place a pulmonary band to restrict blood flow to her lungs.  The day after her first birthday, Annie went into the hospital for a scheduled repair of her heart; to make her a single ventricle functioning heart.  She had a massive heart attack during surgery and was placed on life support.  A few days later, she was listed for heart transplantation.   Twenty-five days after suffering the heart attack, Annie received the wonderful donation of a new heart.  She paid heavily for it, losing toes and fingers, and more importantly, suffering injury to her precious brain.  But the new heart served her well.  Annie grew into the wonderful, loving joy that we all know today.

On August 18, 2010 Annie had her annual cardiac catheterization, something that had become routine to us.  We received the terrible news that she had developed cardiac allograft vasculopathy, a chronic form of rejection in which the walls of the coronary arteries begin to thicken.  It could lead to sudden death by heart attack. The only treatment is retransplantation.  Just after Christmas, Annie received a new heart and has been improving ever since.  She will start third grade this fall.  Annie enjoys strolling through town with mom and dad, watching videos on YouTube, going to school and cutting up with her big sisters.  Someone’s thoughtfulness (as a time of extreme personal tragedy) to give the gift of life by donating their child’s heart has enabled Annie to live hers to her fullest potential. We are all grateful for that.

Annie is the youngest of four children, three of whom were born with a congenital heart defect.  Her oldest sister was born with AV Canal, had heart surgery at the age of 8 months, and has grown into a wonderful, healthy, young woman.  Her brother was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  His was a more difficult path, requiring multiple surgeries to re-route the cardiovascular plumbing, so to speak.  He, too, is growing up without too much worry.

Give hope to someone waiting for a second chance at life.  Place your name on the KY Organ Donor Registry.