Woman defied the estimate put on her life by doctors during her birth and is now ready to live her new life to the fullest post heart transplant.
Limitations are meant to be broken. Sheri Johnson proved this after living way past what doctors expected when they discovered her congenital defect. Johnson always felt as if she was living on borrowed time, and any day out of the blue, she would lose the precious gift called life, as reported by Today. This made events and celebrations more important for her, as she wanted to experience a life's worth of experiences in a short period of time. But her perseverance finally paid off as she was able to come out of this state, and finally have the kind of life she wanted.
Soon after she was born a nurse noted her purple lips and fingertips. At first, she thought it was candy, but on further investigation, she came to the conclusion, that it was something serious. The doctor diagnosed her with a 'backward' heart. This condition happens when a child is born with a heart where arteries that carry the blood out, are exchanged in terms of position, which ultimately causes problems in circulation. As a result, the organs do not get enough oxygen, leading to purple lips, skin, and nails.
Doctors didn’t think she’d make it into adulthood, so when years passed, “it was always in the back of my head that today could be my last day,” she sayshttps://t.co/c62ZevUEbl— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) September 13, 2023
Doctors began treating her right away. Her life quality was severely hampered as she could not do many of the activities such as running and jumping like the children of her age. She would get exhausted easily. Due to her condition, she had to get heart surgery at the age of five. She was one of the first recipients of that kind of heart repair surgery, so they had no data to understand how long Johnson would be able to live with repair. They gave an estimate of 19 years. This caused her to always live like she was on the edge.
Johnson went to college and also met the love of her life whom she soon married. The couple could not start a family as a cardiologist told Johnson that she would not be able to survive childbirth. Therefore the couple took the route of adoption. Celebrations and events were never a normal affair in her household. Johnson shared, “I drove my husband crazy because at Christmas time I went overboard because I always felt like this could be the last Christmas with my girls, so I wanted it to be the best Christmas ever.”
Though Johnson was happy, the doctor's warnings haunted each and every moment of her life. “I definitely lived with that fear of ‘The surgery lasted longer than they expected, so when is it going to give out?’ I lived with that in the back of my mind,” she told the publication. As a mom, she took her daughters to everything, as she did not want to put anything for tomorrow. The heart problems never really went away. At first, she got a pacemaker, to recover from her slow heart. Thereafter, she had to deal with issues like atrial flutter, an abnormal heart rhythm, and heart failure. Finally, the doctors came to the conclusion that Johnson's heart would no longer suffice. They put her on the transplant list. In 2021, she got a new heart which her doctor called, the “Cadillac heart.”
The surgery went well, and Johnson got the life she always wanted. She is walking, exercising, and riding bikes, everything that she could not do with her condition. Prior to the transplant, she could not travel, but with this new heart, she has been given the go-ahead and has planned a Hawaii trip with her husband of 30 years. She will also participate in the 2024 Transplant Games of America. Her utmost priority is to take care of herself so that she can honor her donor.