14-Year-Old Teen Lived 118 Days Without a Heart

Published November 21, 2008

Posted Nov. 21, 2008 – A South Carolina teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart before being released from the hospital on Thursday.

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The young woman was kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device, until she was able to get a heart transplant, doctors in Miami said on Wednesday.

The patient, D'Zhana Simmons, 14, of South Carolina Simmons, suffered from cardiomyopathy, a condition in which her heart doesn't pump blood properly. She had a heart transplant on July 2 at Miami 's Holtz Children's Hospital, but the new heart malfunctioned and was removed. She was then kept alive by two heart pumps until a suitable new heart could be found and transplanted.

During the wait, she fought off numerous ailments, doctors said. While she might not be the longest surviving patient kept alive artificially, she might be the youngest, her doctors said. There was another case in which an adult had been kept alive in Germany for nine months without a heart.

Simmons says the entire experience was a bit "scary." "You never knew when it would malfunction," she said at a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center on Thursday.

Click here to see what else Simmons had to say.

Written by BET-Staff

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