8-year-old gets heart transplant on Thanksgiving day

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 6:59 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) - Avery Sweat, an eight-year-old girl from Milton, West Virginia, has been through more in the last several months than many people face in a lifetime.

“She was very aware of everything and had asked us several times if she was gonna die,” Avery’s mother, Ginger said.

Ginger says Avery developed heart complications back in June-- resulting in Avery having to depend on a device implanted in her chest that helps pump blood from her heart to the rest of her body.

“If we were to at the time run out of batteries or not have electricity, there comes a time where she only has so many hours and once she gets out of batteries, she only has 15 minutes in her actual device and then her heart would stop,” Ginger said.

Avery and her family have spent days on end at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio during the course of this tedious adjustment-- as well as suffering from a stroke and even going blind at one point along the way.

“Since then we’ve just been healing and waiting for the call,” Ginger said.

Avery’s family has remained hopeful that every time the phone rings, it’s a call that a heart transplant is ready for Avery.

“Yesterday we got the call at eight in the morning,” Ginger said.

Sure enough--- bright and early on Thanksgiving day, the call Avery and her family have been dreaming about for months dialed in.

“She basically just started crying instantly and saying that it’s the best day of her life and that she can’t wait to get home to West Virginia and her family and friends and to be able to swim and run and play and do all the things that she did enjoy before all of this,” Ginger said.

Ending a chapter and turning the page towards a new start.

“We all listened to her heart one last time cause it’s not a normal heartbeat where she has the device. It sounds very musical,” Ginger said.

Ginger says her family remains blessed and grateful for the donor who made this opportunity possible.

“It’s mentally taxing to know that through someone else’s sorrow, my child is gaining life, because I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone… I want them to know that there was good that came out of it,” Ginger said.

As this new journey begins, the Sweat family will always remember this Thanksgiving holiday as one they are extra thankful for.

“It’s just made Thanksgiving so much more special. Even though we couldn’t be home in West Virginia with our family and do the traditional things, this is one we’ll never forget and obviously will change Thanksgiving forever for us,” Ginger said.

Avery finished surgery Friday morning and her mother says they could be staying at the hospital for another two to four weeks for recovery.

Then, there’s a year’s worth of more in-depth appointments where doctors will make sure the body is accepting the new heart properly.

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