In most respects she’s a normal teenager with a love of hanging out with friends and talking fashion, but 13-year-old Kyah DeSimone from Boston carries a purse with her that matters more than the recent trends – it powers her artificial heart.
The teenager was rushed to hospital from a sleepover when she was just 10 years old. Doctors were shocked to realize she was suffering from heart failure as a result of dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition which slowly means the heart is too weak to pump.
She has since been forced to make the agonizing wait for a heart transplant and, in the meantime, carries a purse with her at all times which includes a battery powering a chest pump or ‘artificial heart’ which keeps her alive. Doctors had to fight to win the energetic teen the titanium pump, which has been surgically implanted into her chest, and is powered by a small portable battery.
The small metal device wasn’t yet approved for children but doctors asked for an emergency exemption saying they had no choice.
‘I knew it was heart failure when I saw it,’ she told ABC News. ‘We didn’t know if she would make it through the night,” she said. ‘It was the worst thing to watch, ever.’
Dr. Christina VanderPluym, a pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, treated DeSimone and argued for the pump.
‘In the past, we would just allow these kids to pass peacefully,’ she said. ‘But now we have ventricular assist devices small enough to put in children, and that’s what we were able to use in Kyah.’