4-Year-Old Girl Gets Incredible Birthday Gift: A Heart Transplant

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A young girl has been given a new lease on life after she was finally able to receive the life-saving gift of a heart transplant, the culmination of a journey that stretched across her entire young life.

Addie Hughes, who just turned 4 years old, wasn’t guaranteed to reach that milestone. A rare heart defect at birth led to open heart surgery when she was just 8 weeks old, and she went under the knife four more times before she had even reached the age of 2 years old.

“We had a whole set of nurses who joined her team, and were with her every time that they work,” her father Allen said. “She got comfortable with them, and they really became a second family.”

That relationship has seen its share of good news and bad news, but one day doctors delivered the news that they had been dreading.

“We came in thinking we were just going to replace a valve, and it ended up she needed a whole new heart,” Allen said.

Addie spent an entire year on the transplant donor list, waiting for the right match. There were false starts, including a donor opportunity that fell through in September, but finally, four days after that setback, something remarkable happened: she got her new heart at Lurie Children's Hospital.

“I think this is the first time that we actually feel like a family, and we’re more comfortable now that we’re one step closer to home,” Allen said.

Addie is set for another checkup on Friday, and if all goes according to plan, she’ll be able to go home, leaving the world of wires, surgeries and hospitals behind.

“I asked her what she wants to do when she grows up, and she says ‘I want to go outside,’” Rebecca Hughes, Addie’s mom, said. “We’re really happy that she can be outside now.”

Now, Addie’s parents are encouraging individuals to sign up to be organ donors, reminding us that it can be a critical gift of life to someone in desperate need of a helping hand.

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