Ellen - Back from the Brink

By Alan Mauldin @ The Moultrie Observer

MOULTRIE — A Moultrie toddler who received a heart transplant in June is “thriving” since receiving the new organ, mother Dorothy McCranie said.

Ellen McCranie, who was born with a heart with only two chambers, spent many of her first 13 months at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. She received the new heart on June 9 but severely rejected it, resulting in seven weeks spent in the intensive care unit.

Dorothy McCranie talked about her daughter’s progress last week during Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, which ended Sunday. She said that early detection is a key to improving children’s chances, noting the treatment available today, including experimental in-utero surgery.

“She’s doing great,” McCranie said. “She’s thriving now. When she had her heart she couldn’t do anything. She’d give out, her organs weren’t functioning.

“If you were to see her now you’d never realize there was ever anything wrong with her. She’s crawling, she’s into everything, opening all the cabinets. They think all her physical delays, that she will catch up in the next two or three years.”

Prior to Ellen’s birth, the McCranies were not aware of their daughter’s condition. That could have made a difference if they had had the information earlier, McCranie said.

“We didn’t know she had it,” she said. “We got her home and she crashed. If we had known about it in utero we would have had her in Atlanta next to Egleston and had surgery at three or four days.”

Ellen’s heart was severely damaged and surgeries did not repair it, making a transplant her only option.

“Her heart was just too weak,” McCranie said.

According to the Congenital Heart Information Network, congenital heart disease is considered to be the most common cause of birth-defect related deaths worldwide. It occurs during pregnancy when a heart fails to develop properly, and estimates are that more than 40,000 babies are born each year in the United States with the condition.

Ellen will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, McCranie said.

She urged mothers-to-be to have a certified ultrasound technician check for heart defects because of the importance of early detection.

She also urged people to donate to funding for research to help others whose children have heart defects.

“Early detection can go a long way to preventing other issues from arising if a child is born with a congenital heart defect and to preventing deaths of newborns with congenital heart defects,” she said.

“Research and funding are greatly needed with regards to congenital heard defects. At several centers around the country, they are researching and attempting to correct congenital heart defects during pregnancy. This is very important research.”

    Donate LifeHelp respond to a growing need for transplant care
    for children:

    -Visit Donate Life Georgia to register to become a donor.

    -Support Children’s pursuit of excellence in transplant services, allowing us to increase our medical staff, expand our services to provide more transplants to a growing number of children and discover the next breakthroughs in transplant medicine through research.

    -Check out just a few of Children's courageous transplant recipients on Facebook and other patient stories.