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Heart Transplant Gives Girl More Possibilities in New Year

Heart Transplant Gives Girl More Possibilities in New Year

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

December 30, 2009

Shelley Effert was at a Brewers game with her husband, Derek, and a couple of friends this summer — “Our first date night in forever,” she said — when she got the call.

Her daughter’s new heart was ready, and the Efferts had an hour and a half to get to the hospital for the transplant.

So Shelley and Derek scrambled to their Brookfield home to pick up 7-year-old Miranda and take her to Children’s Hospital in Wauwatosa. The doctors wheeled Miranda away to the operating room, and the Efferts didn’t see their daughter for another 16 hours.

Now, four months later, Miranda is off of oxygen for only the second time in her life, and she’s getting ready to head back to school a few days a week.

Not bad for a kid who had her first open-heart surgery when she was five days old and who was declared terminal by doctors when she was 2 1/2 .

24 surgeries since birth

Medical procedures are nothing new to the Effert family: Shelley, Derek, Miranda, 6-year-old Vaughn and 5-year-old Aaron.

Miranda was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning the left side of her heart did not develop correctly, leaving Miranda with essentially half a heart. Her first open-heart surgery was followed by another just four months later.

Miranda, who is in her second year in Dixon Elementary School’s special education program, suffered brain damage due to the lack of oxygen to her brain and has undergone 24 surgeries since she was born.

Two and a half years ago, she lost the function of her left lung.

Shelley said doctors started transplant testing on Miranda about two years ago “because her body was getting tired.” This February, she was put on the heart transplant list as a very high-risk patient.

After the surgery, Miranda’s chest was left open for five days so the swelling caused by the operation could go down. While the sight was too much for some people, Shelley was fascinated.

“We got to watch her new, beautiful heart beat,” she said.

Shelley doesn’t know who the heart came from, only that it was from a little girl who was slightly older than Miranda.

“We’d love to thank them for the beautiful gift they gave our family,” Shelley said.

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