When the mother of an eight-year-old girl heard that people in school had been saying her daughter looked pregnant, she panicked. Nothing seemed amiss to the mom, but an ultrasound revealed something that left her stunned.
An unexpected health scare is always a worrisome ordeal. When it happens to the youngest member of a family, things can often seem hopeless and unfair. Sydney-based Leah and her husband thought everything was fine with their youngest until they heard strange reports from her school.
Eight-year-old Jada seemed healthy. Her parents confessed that she was tiny and frail, but she had always been lacking in stature, and they’d never really questioned it. Jada was also the youngest of four kids, so they thought her lack of energy was merely an inability to keep up with the wild lifestyle of a busy family.
Things changed when kids at Jada’s school started saying she looked pregnant. Leah couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. Kids can be mean, but this seemed like an exceptional case. Although she herself hadn’t noticed anything strange about her daughter, the mom and her husband decided to consult a doctor nonetheless.
So she and her husband took their eight-year-old daughter in for an ultrasound. The appointment set events in motion that Leah and Victor never thought they would have to face. The mom of four recalled how the technician doing the ultrasound reacted after completing the procedure and catching a glimpse of Jada’s stomach. Leah reflected on the ordeal with shock.
Leah recalled the sonographer referring them back to their doctor, who revealed that Jada’s swelling tummy was a result of all her organs being enlarged. Following the doctor’s dire verdict, the family rushed to the hospital for emergency care.
Jada and her family spent an entire weekend in the hospital, desperately hoping there would be a solution to her condition to lessen the swelling of her organs. The hospital staff prescribed diuretics, but due to the enormous amount of water that had gathered in her organs, Jada lost a tremendous amount of water. Leah recalled, “They gave her diuretics, and Jada lost five kilos of water.” A nurse stayed with us because losing that much liquid so quickly put her at risk of cardiac arrest.
Finally, on the following Monday, the hospital found a specialist who could take a look at Jada’s case. Claire, a transplant specialist, approached the family to clarify the situation, explaining, “Your daughter has restrictive cardiomyopathy.” Leah noted that the diagnosis felt like a slap in the face. The diagnosis meant Jada would need a heart transplant, news that would shock even hardened adults.
The medical staff responsible for Jada proceeded with a series of intricate tests to prepare for the necessary procedure, which included echocardiograms. Leah and Victor traveled to Melbourne to meet the team who would be operating on their daughter.
The parents arrived in the capital city of Victoria still believing their daughter had a few years ahead of her. After meeting with the surgeons, doctors, and nurses assigned to Jada, the pair realized how dire the situation was. Leah’s little girl had immediately been placed on the list of patients who were most in need of a new heart.
The team in Melbourne conducted numerous more tests and told the two parents they needed to proceed with the transplant as soon as possible. However, for the moment, the family had to return home. Three months later, the team had sourced the perfect heart for Jada, and Leah received a call asking them to return to Melbourne. The family got on an airplane, and Leah recalled clutching a sweet old lady’s hand the entire flight.
Leah, Victor, and Jada went directly to the hospital after landing, where a nurse escorted them to their room. The surgeon introduced himself to the family, and the team proceeded with the operation. Luckily, there were no complications, and the surgeon returned to the parents with good news that everything was a success.
The ordeal took its toll on Jada’s parents as well, but Leah commented that things were finally falling into place. After the operation, Jada was moved to the ICU, where nurses kept an eye on her as she recovered. A few hours later, her parents were allowed to see her, and Leah recalled, “We walked into ICU hours later. Nothing can prepare you for that. I felt like I left my own body. I was numb. She was laying there lifeless. It was terrifying.”
Although the transplant was a success, Jada experienced a few minor setbacks during her recovery, which kept her in the hospital longer than anticipated. While the girl was recovering under the caring eyes of the hospital staff, Leah and Victor stayed in accommodation provided to them by Heart Kids.
The donor heart was almost a perfect fit for the young Jada. She also had a visit from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who gifted her a Sphynx cat. Jada had chosen the hairless cat because her mom had allergies and because she had read that the breed often had heart conditions, something Jada could relate with.
As Jada grows, she still undergoes regular checkups to ensure the new heart isn’t being rejected. Leah happily revealed that the fourth test showed zero percent rejection, which left the family extremely hopeful. Although the tests can be daunting and anxiety-inducing, Jada has her cat Penny as support.
The ordeal took its toll on Jada’s parents as well, but Leah commented that things were finally falling into place. The mom has learned to expect the unexpected and is happy to see her daughter live an ordinary life. She gushed, “Jada is healthy and strong now. We feel so blessed.”