Inside a 60-year-grandmother's body beats the heart of a 14-year-girl.
Vicky Johnson had congestive heart failure and told Inside Edition she feels “like a kid that gets to grow up again.” Her situation was so dire that in 2016 she was moved to the top of the heart donor transplant list in Portland, Oregon. Just 24 hours later, a perfect match was found.
“I just really think I went into a little bit of a shock. I couldn’t speak. I’m going to get to live,” she recalled of getting the news.
Five hundred miles away in Sacramento, California, Lauren Santoro was mourning the loss of her only child, Isabel. The 14-year-old took her own life after allegedly being bullied at school, Santoro told Inside Edition.
Isabel dreamed of being a doctor, so her mom said it was an easy decision to donate her heart.
“We did it because that would be what Isabel would want,” she said. “Her life needed to go on. It couldn’t just end.”
The transplant went flawlessly and Inside Edition’s cameras were there as Johnson met with her heart donor’s mother. There was a magical moment as Santoro listened to her daughter’s heart beating strong in Johnson’s body.
“It wonderful to hear her heart beating,” Santoro said.
Dr. Jennifer Haythe is a cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and discussed what Johnson faces having a teenage heart.
“Getting a young donor heart, a 14-year-old heart is an incredibly wonderful gift,” she told Inside Edition. “We don't say the life expectancy for the 60-year-old will increase beyond the normal person's life expectancy, but the outcome of that person will be better than if the heart were older.”