|Ellie McCloskey receives new heart posted on 01/01/2023|
Ellie McCloskey was celebrating her eleventh birthday at a
game of miniature golf with her father, Brandon, and her grandparents in
November when they received the long-awaited call that she had an offer for a
On Nov 15 at around 4:20 a.m. Ellie entered surgery at the
Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Calif. and successfully
received the donor heart transplant.
“The 14 hours I was waiting (during the procedure) were the
longest in my life,” Brandon said.
The McCloskey’s discovered in June that Ellie was in urgent
need for a heart transplant due to complications from Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a
heart condition Ellie was diagnosed with at age seven.
The Mount Hood family had been waiting since July in Palo
Alto, Calif. for a suitable donor heart with the appropriate size, blood type
and a similar enough antibody profile for the procedure.
When the call came in that a donor heart was finally
available Brandon said that the initial rush of relief from the news gave way
to more concern as the family rushed to prepare Ellie for the high-risk
Now the family is excited to report that at the one-month
biopsy on Dec. 16, Ellie was 100 percent grade 0 for organ rejection and does
not have a single sign of her body rejecting the heart transplant.
“It’s very hard to believe that just one month ago Ellie had
her heart replaced with a new heart and is doing so incredible,” Brandon said.
“Ellie is really getting back to herself. She can walk up and down stairs
without getting winded, she can walk all over the store, all over town really,
without having to take a break.”
Ellie still has a long road ahead before she is ready to
return home to the Mount Hood region.
She currently has weekly visits to the hospital for blood
analysis and monitoring to make sure her anti-rejection medicine is functioning
She’ll undergo additional biopsies of her heart material at
six, eight and twelve weeks after the surgery.
The McCloskey’s are anticipating the possibility of
returning home in mid-February if Ellie’s test results continue to produce the
best possible outcome with no signs of organ rejection.
Even with the best outcomes, Ellie will have a lifelong
process of testing and monitoring her new heart ahead of her.
“Ellie’s traded being a heart failure patient for being an
organ transplant patient,” Brandon said.
Brandon attributes part of the positive response thus far to
the fact that Ellie is the first Stanford pediatric patient to receive a heart
transplant using the TransMedics Organ Care System (OCS) transport system,
commonly referred to as the “heart in a box.”
The device is a portable, warm perfusion and monitoring
system designed to keep a donor heart at a human-like, metabolically active
state. The heart is kept warm and is alive and pumping prior to the surgery.
This allows for an increased transport range and has a greater than 80 percent
survival rate for patients six months after transplant.
Although the McCloskey’s are happy to report positive news
regarding the recovery process the lengthy stay in Palo Alto while maintaining
their home on the mountain continues to be a financial challenge.
The family is continuing to accept community support on
their GoFundMe page for medical expenses and the process of getting Ellie
settled back at home.
In the meantime, Ellie has been enjoying playing with remote
control cars, reading and doing arts-and-crafts while she is recovering.
Brandon reports that Ellie is really looking forward to
being able to go outside and explore without physical limitations and finally
take part in hikes and other activities she was unable to do before the transplant.
The McCloskey’s are excited to plan a tentative trip to
Yosemite by way of Crater Lake for when Ellie has recovered from the surgery
and has a stable condition that allows travel.
Continued updates will be available on the McCloskey’s
GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/690e9509.
“She’s really able to be a kid again. It’s amazing,” Brandon
By Ben Simpson/MT