Woman Who Had A Heart Attack At 14 Received A New Heart
Jaelyn Kinchelow is celebrating having a second chance at life.
May 25, 2022 at 8:52 pm
After having a life-altering heart attack as a teenager, a 24-year-old Indiana woman underwent heart surgery and is celebrating a second chance at life, Good Morning America reports.
Jaelyn Kinchelow was 14 years old when she was running at her middle school track practice and started to feel a tightness in her chest. Moments later, she collapsed.
“All I could remember was myself slowing down because I just couldn’t keep up,” she told GMA. “Shortly after that, my legs gave out and I fell to the ground.”
The then-teen was taken to the hospital via ambulance. There, doctors determined that she had a heart attack and decided to perform open-heart surgery. The surgery helped repair a torn coronary artery wall, however, her heart had permanent damage that was irreparable.
“After surgery my heart was only functioning at about 5%. They put me on an ECMO machine,” Kinchelow said.
According to Good Morning America, an ECMO is an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine that removes carbon dioxide from the blood and sends blood back into the body with oxygen, which then gives the heart and lungs time to heal.
“They didn’t think I was going to make it so they had to do all they could to keep me alive,” she said.
Kinchelow spent eight days in a coma and almost a month in the hospital. According to Because of Them We Can, when she got home, she realized that her life was different. She decided to move forward, returning to school and joining sports and clubs like roller skating and choir. She also received her bachelor’s degree and started her career as a nurse.
But at the beginning of her last semester of nursing school, Kinchelow started to feel a shortness of breath similar to what she felt almost a decade ago when she had a heart attack.
“I couldn’t do my daily activities. I was too tired to walk upstairs,” she said. “I went to the hospital and spent three weeks in the hospital in January, and they decided I needed to be on the transplant list.”
Kinchelow was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children and waited months for a new heart.
“The call is the thing you look forward to when you’re waiting. You just never know when it’s going to come,” she said. “They were saying that with my blood type, it’s like one of the longest waits. That was one of the things I was just scared of.”
Finally, she got the news she was waiting for on March 27. She received a call from her transplant coordinator, letting her know that she was getting a new heart.
“They handed me the phone and she said, ‘I have some good news for you,’ and I said, ‘Debbie, if you’re not calling about a heart I don’t want to hear it,'” Kinchelow recounted. “I just lost it after that.”
She underwent a 12-hour surgery to get her new heart the next day. It took six hours to remove her original heart, which was extremely enlarged.
After Kinchelow recovered from the transplant, she received a touching letter from the family of her heart donor.
“They said the family jumped through hoops to make sure they got a letter to me,” she said. “That was a huge surprise and so emotional for me.”
Now, with a new heart, Kinchelow plans on sharing her story to raise awareness about organ donation and the risks of heart disease among women.
“I would say to anybody, don’t take your health lightly,” she said. “Although I was 14, I knew something was not right. It’s important to pay attention to anything that feels different.”