In September of 2006, then 11-year-old Isabella Smith received a life-saving heart transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of the heart is critically underdeveloped. Isabella had two previous open-heart surgeries – the first when she was just four days old – but by the time she was 11, her heart was failing and she was in need of a transplant.
Fortunately, Isabella’s transplant was made possible by a new technology called ex-vivo lung perfusion, or EVLP. This technology allowed doctors to “test-drive” Isabella’s new heart outside of her body before transplanting it, ensuring that it was a good match and would function properly.
Since receiving her transplant, Isabella has been doing well. She attends school and participates in extracurricular activities like playing the violin. She also advocates for organ donation, and has even met with then-President Barack Obama to discuss the importance of organ donation and transplantation.
Isabella’s story is a heartwarming example of the life-saving potential of organ transplantation, and of the importance of continued research and innovation in this field.