D’Zhana Simmons (14) of South Carolina lived four months without a heart. She was living with the custom-built blood-pumping device in her chest for 118 days. The girl says that she did not feel human during that time. She said that she felt like a stuffed animal or the cover of a human being.
Simmons has had two heart transplant surgeries since July of the current year. The girl stayed alive owing to the artificial device that replaced her heart for four months until she was able to receive a donor heart.
D’Zhana and her parents discovered in the spring of 2008 that the girl’s heart was enlarged. The heart was unable to pump blood through D’Zhana’s body. The family flew from South Carolina to Miami’s Holtz Children’s Hospital. The girl had a transplant surgery, but it was later revealed that the new heart was not functioning properly. The heart had to be removed urgently. Doctors eventually decided to replace the girl’s heart with artificial pumps which she would carry for the time required for the second donor heart to arrive.
The girl said after surgery that she was scared all the time. “You never knew when it would malfunction,” she said.