Shortly after 2-year-old Amelia Johnson completed chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia, her family learned that she was in heart failure.
It was a blow that her mother, Lisa Akins, remembers well – even 15 years later. Born with Down syndrome, Amelia already had beaten leukemia. But the drug that saved her life also weakened her heart. Amelia would eventually need a new one, doctors told her.
“I just cried and prayed. A bunch of prayers,” Lisa said. “There’s nothing else you can do. I didn’t want her to have to go through something else so terrible.”
For the next decade, Amelia was hospitalized every time she became sick. In December 2017, Amelia received a ventricular assist device to bridge her failing heart to a transplant. In February 2018, she received a new heart.
“She became very close with her surgeon, Dr. (Umar) Boston. He was amazing,” Lisa said. “I feel like I owe him my life.”
Lisa says that Amelia has been out of the hospital and healthy since the transplant. Today, she’s a funny high schooler who loves music and loves to dance.
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