By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
Anna King has a new beat in her step and chest as she and her parents look forward to taking on the ventures of life without the struggles of an off-beat heart.
The 14-year-old Mayfield native recently underwent a 10-hour heart transplant on Aug. 22 and is in the process of recovering at her home in The Woodlands, Texas.
“We are still trying to adjust to the new reality that the wait is over after living with it for so long,” her mother Pam King said.
She said the surgery wasn’t immediate and brought 832 days of uncertainty since Anna was first diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, on March 30, 2012.
The diagnosis was the result of her heart being enlarged and weakened which caused the muscle to pump blood inefficiently, her mother said.
“They told us immediately she would need a heart transplant,” Pam King said.
However, she said the issue they faced was Anna was originally diagnosed as a status two which prevented her from being placed on the heart recipient list.
“Anna was stable and stayed stable almost the entire time but this Summer she was upgraded after her heart started to beat out of rhythm,” her mother said. “It made for a very long wait.”
She said despite her daughter’s heart being a concern Anna was able to keep up with her academics through home schooling.
“She didn’t have the energy to attend school all day and she risked being exposed to health concerns which would prevent her from receiving a transplant once that became available,” her father Joe King said. “If you are already fighting a virus and they have to take your immune system down to accept the transplant it wouldn’t be successful.”
However, the most difficult loss for Anna was her ability to compete in sports which was limited throughout the lengthy medical emergency.
“Before she was diagnosed she was playing every sport that was available,” her mother said. “All of that had to stop because she couldn’t exert herself. One of the first things she expressed was her excitement to do those types of activities again.”
She said the recovery following heart transplant surgery will require her to be isolated for about three to six months but after that period she will be able to enjoy the opportunities that life presents a young teenager.
“She will be rejoining her classmates that she left at the end of the 6th grade,” Pam King said. “They have been behind her this whole time.” Her mother said Anna will be entering the public school system once again for what will be the start of her freshman year in high school.
“She hasn’t let this get her down and she will step back in without missing a beat,” she said.
Pam King said the only information the family received about the heart donor was it came from a 20-year-old girl. She said they have the opportunity to write the donors family but it would be up to them on whether the two parties would have the chance to meet each other in the future.
“The family will be told that the heart went to a 14-year-old girl but they won’t know the where and when,” Pam King explained. “We have the opportunity to write them and if they want to respond they can but they don’t have to.”
Despite living out of the area the King family said the Fulton County community has kept Anna and her heart in their minds and wishes throughout her journey.
Pam King said her daughter has received dozens of cards and letters since the surgery and the large majority of those came from residents in Fulton County.
“We have been so thankful for all the support back in New York,” Pam King said. “When people see it’s kids like Anna that benefit from organ donations it might make them consider registering,”
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King is Anna’s uncle and said he is proud of his niece’s fight and believes her ordeal has inspired the entire community.
“This was something that a lot of people had been praying for,” King said. “It’s unfortunate someone else had to pass away to make this happen and our prayers are with that family, but I think Anna has really encouraged people to become donors. We’ve registered a lot of people in Gloversville and Fulton County.”