Breaking News
More () »

She had a heart transplant at 6. Now she's studying to be a nurse.

Grace Callahan was only six when she received her first heart transplant.

ATLANTA — One in 77 children in the U.S. had a heart condition as of 2016. That’s almost a million. Many organizations and families are trying to bring awareness to heart health.

Audrey Callahan is a mother telling her daughter’s story to help draw attention to children in need. Grace Callahan received her heart condition diagnosis when she was only 11 days old. When she was 6, she received a heart transplant.

“The average heart in a child lasts about 17 years. We’re very blessed she’s 12 1/2 years out,” said Audrey.

Many young patients, like Grace, require lifelong care and another heart transplant. Few children are fortunate to survive the transplants. 

“We’ve known five or six children who’ve passed away waiting on the second heart and it’s a tough reality to live with, but she’s traveling along this journey despite the many complications that come with it," Audrey said.

Grace is now studying to be a nurse.

Even after receiving a heart transplant, children can have complications that come along with it. 

“It does come with a lifetime of complications. So, they tell us during the transplant evaluation process that it’s not a cure you’re trading one set of problems for another,” said Audrey.

Grace has had kidney disease and the developing stages of coronary artery disease since her transplant.

“It is not a cure. They still have a lot of needs... and the funding for research is very important so that we can help hearts last a lot longer," the mother said.

Organizations like Enduring Hearts donate to families in need. Enduring Hearts is a non-profit in Atlanta partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The organization has supported over 500 families.

In research for pediatric heart transplants, Enduring Heart’s also funded 58 studies in top research institutions across North America and Europe.

Before You Leave, Check This Out