Thanks to recent medical advances, there are over 32,000 adults who are living with a heart defect that they have carried with them since childhood. One of those is Leah; a young woman who was born a heart kid and has fought her way through to make it out the other side stronger than ever.
Before she was born, doctors discovered that Leah had Dextrocardia – a condition where the heart is too far over to the right side, and flipped over. After her birth, doctors at the RCH diagnosed Baby Leah with asplenia (no spleen), right isomerism (two right atrimus – blood collection chambers- with no wall in between), pulmonary stenosis (obstruction of blood flow in the heart), a hypoplastic right ventricle, a complete AVSD (where the valves were leaking and not formed properly) and Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).
Leah lived with a pacemaker up until early 2014, when she underwent a 14 hour heart transplant at the RCH. She stayed in hospital for a month to recover, and remained in Melbourne for another three months for check-ups and fine-tuning the medication, before moving with her family back to their home state of Tasmania.
Now 19, Leah doesn’t let the challenges she has experienced hold her back. She has completed school and is enrolled in an Arts Degree at the University of Tasmania, and her strong social conscience allows her to help others; Leah has been to Vanuatu to help build a local village’s water tank, and wants to work with disadvantaged children in the future.
Leah has proved herself to be a very strong young woman, and is an inspiration to her peers and fellow heart kids. She is a perfect example of how adults can live with and manage their childhood heart condition, growing from a heart kid into a heart adult.