Girl’s Damaged Heart Magically Heals Itself: After 10 Years With Two Hearts

July 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A teenaged English girl from Cardiff Wales knows all about the power of a broken heart to repair itself over time. Hannah Clark, now 16-years-old, lived with two hearts for 10 years, a donor heart and her own failing heart, damaged from an often-fatal condition, called cardiomyopathy from infancy.

Over time, Hannah’s doctors discovered her own damaged heart began to “magically” heal itself and they removed her donor heart in 2006, with Hannah now enjoying a normal and healthy life with her own heart, free from the harmful side effects of immunosuppressant drugs.

Hannah had to fight for each day of her life, since her heart failed when she was just 8-months-old, battling with the side effects from the powerful immunosuppressant drugs that prevented her body from rejecting her donor heart.

Eventually, the immunosuppressant drugs caused Hannah to develop a rare type of cancer, associated with a disorder suffered by transplant patients, called Epstein-Barr-virus-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder.

As long as she remained on the immunosuppressant drugs, the cancer would continue to worsen and eventually take her young life. At one point Hannah’s cancer became so serious, her parents were told she only had hours to live, but she proved them wrong

Hannah’s doctors decided to take a risk to save Hannah’s life once again, by removing her heart transplant, so she could stop taking the immunosuppressant drugs needed to keep the donor heart pumping in her chest.

Although her doctors knew from tests that her own heart was now working, they were uncertain if it was strong enough to sustain her life. But, Hannah and her family were facing a fatal outcome from the cancer that was destroying healthy cells in Hannah’s body at an alarming pace.

Their risk paid off. Hannah is now cancer-free and her heart is a healthy blood-pumping organ that allows her to live a normal active life, like never before. She is now able to go swimming, running and walk her dog.

The doctors are mystified at the degree that Hannah’s heart healed itself. It’s always been believed that a heart was an “end-stage organ,” with no hope for regrowth once heart cells died. Well, Hannah has proved that theory wrong. Her heart not only healed, but also regenerated itself.

The doctors theorize that the donor heart “allowed her own heart to “rest and recover.” Researcher now plan to use this new knowledge to help other patients with heart disease, to possibly aide the regeneration of dead heart cells.

Meanwhile, Hannah for the first time in her young life, can dream about the future, excitedly saying that someday she wants to “…work with animals or with children in a hospital.”


Photo Source: Felix Clay, The Guardian


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