An online journey of one young woman's battle to stay alive and raise her daughter. She lives currently in Cedar-Sinai in Los Angeles CA on a mechanical heart. She is awaiting her second heart transplant to stay alive and raise her 6 year old daughter. She is only the second person in the US to receive the 50cc TAH-t artificial heart, a bridge to transplant. Click here to help with funding.
Paula's story starts when she was 16 years old. Many doctors believe she developed a viral infection called Epstein-Barr.
The Epstein–Barr virus is one of the most common viruses in humans. It is best known as the cause of infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever). In the United States, about half of all five-year-old children and about 90 percent of adults have evidence of previous infection. Many children become infected with EBV, and these infections usually cause no symptoms or are indistinguishable from the other mild, brief illnesses of childhood. When infection with EBV occurs during adolescence, it causes infectious mononucleosis 35 to 50 percent of the time.
In Paula's body this virus attacked the muscles in her heart severely and permanently damaged her heart. This was not diagnosed promptly. In fact it was actually a dermatologist in Sequim, Washington who finally diagnosed her heart condition. At this point she was very weak and she had developed a severe rash over her entire body. The dermatologist questioned whether her heart had been checked and borrowed an EKG machine.
After diagnosis Paula spent 10 days in Children's Hospital in Seattle, WA. The doctors at Children's hospital gave her condition a name "Myocarditis or inflamed heart". In December 1998, Paula was listed on the national heart transplant list. On June 11th 1999, at twenty-four years old, Paula underwent her first heart transplant at University of Washington Medical Center.