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Ellie McCloskey receives new heart posted on 01/01/2023

Ellie McCloskey was celebrating her eleventh birthday at a game of miniature golf with her father, Brandon, and her grandparents in November when they received the long-awaited call that she had an offer for a donor heart.

On Nov 15 at around 4:20 a.m. Ellie entered surgery at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Calif. and successfully received the donor heart transplant.

“The 14 hours I was waiting (during the procedure) were the longest in my life,” Brandon said.

The McCloskey’s discovered in June that Ellie was in urgent need for a heart transplant due to complications from Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a heart condition Ellie was diagnosed with at age seven.

The Mount Hood family had been waiting since July in Palo Alto, Calif. for a suitable donor heart with the appropriate size, blood type and a similar enough antibody profile for the procedure.

When the call came in that a donor heart was finally available Brandon said that the initial rush of relief from the news gave way to more concern as the family rushed to prepare Ellie for the high-risk surgical procedure.

Now the family is excited to report that at the one-month biopsy on Dec. 16, Ellie was 100 percent grade 0 for organ rejection and does not have a single sign of her body rejecting the heart transplant.

“It’s very hard to believe that just one month ago Ellie had her heart replaced with a new heart and is doing so incredible,” Brandon said. “Ellie is really getting back to herself. She can walk up and down stairs without getting winded, she can walk all over the store, all over town really, without having to take a break.”

Ellie still has a long road ahead before she is ready to return home to the Mount Hood region.

She currently has weekly visits to the hospital for blood analysis and monitoring to make sure her anti-rejection medicine is functioning properly.

She’ll undergo additional biopsies of her heart material at six, eight and twelve weeks after the surgery.

The McCloskey’s are anticipating the possibility of returning home in mid-February if Ellie’s test results continue to produce the best possible outcome with no signs of organ rejection.

Even with the best outcomes, Ellie will have a lifelong process of testing and monitoring her new heart ahead of her.

“Ellie’s traded being a heart failure patient for being an organ transplant patient,” Brandon said.

Brandon attributes part of the positive response thus far to the fact that Ellie is the first Stanford pediatric patient to receive a heart transplant using the TransMedics Organ Care System (OCS) transport system, commonly referred to as the “heart in a box.”

The device is a portable, warm perfusion and monitoring system designed to keep a donor heart at a human-like, metabolically active state. The heart is kept warm and is alive and pumping prior to the surgery. This allows for an increased transport range and has a greater than 80 percent survival rate for patients six months after transplant.

Although the McCloskey’s are happy to report positive news regarding the recovery process the lengthy stay in Palo Alto while maintaining their home on the mountain continues to be a financial challenge.

The family is continuing to accept community support on their GoFundMe page for medical expenses and the process of getting Ellie settled back at home.

In the meantime, Ellie has been enjoying playing with remote control cars, reading and doing arts-and-crafts while she is recovering.

Brandon reports that Ellie is really looking forward to being able to go outside and explore without physical limitations and finally take part in hikes and other activities she was unable to do before the transplant.

The McCloskey’s are excited to plan a tentative trip to Yosemite by way of Crater Lake for when Ellie has recovered from the surgery and has a stable condition that allows travel.

Continued updates will be available on the McCloskey’s GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/690e9509.

“She’s really able to be a kid again. It’s amazing,” Brandon said.

By Ben Simpson/MT

 

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