Tennessee toddler avoids transplant, mended heart is second chance at life

News

A new name is added to the organ transplant wait list every 10 minutes in America– 2,000 of those names belong to children.

Doctors say it’s extremely rare for a child to come off the list without undergoing transplant surgery. A three-year-old girl named Zoey defied those odds.

Zoey Jones of Nashville has endured more than most people ever will in their lifetime — 13 surgeries, 3 open heart surgeries, 7 cardiac arrests, 5 strokes, and has spent 23 months at a hospital.

Zoey was born with a rare defect known as VACTERL syndrome, which caused serious issues with her heart and lungs.

Just two years old at the time, the Jones family was told she would need a heart and lung transplant.

She was referred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where they began to prepare for a transplant, when a second look led doctors to believe her heart and lungs were strong enough to avoid transplant altogether.

Instead, Zoey underwent the Glenn operation last year, the second of three surgeries which will pave the way for her to live a normal life with her own heart.

In the past few weeks, Zoey has seen major results from the surgery.

“She’s like a whole new little girl,” said Tori Goddard, Zoey’s mom. The family traveled from their Tennessee home of Tennessee to Columbus and continue to see doctors both at home and at the hospital.

The surgery went well, but doctors anticipated that Zoey would spend a long time in the hospital after the Glenn operation.

Once again, Zoey proved them wrong. She went home in just 10 days, and doctors and her mom say she’s been thriving.

“Her progress lately has been amazing. Since we had her heart surgery, she has learned to walk by herself, and doctors told us she would never walk, and she’s walking unassisted now,” said Tori. “We have been able to wean her vent significantly, up to the point now where we’re actually starting to come off of it.”

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