Grace O’Masta has come a long way from the devastating day in spring 2008 when her parents were told their month-old daughter likely wouldn’t survive the night.
Born with an enlarged and weakened heart that wasn’t capable of pumping enough blood on its own, the Eagan, Minn., girl was living at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, hooked up to the Berlin Heart—a then-experimental ventricular assist device— and on the waiting list for a transplant.
Amplatz Children’s Hospital was one of only 13 sites nationwide to participate in Berlin Heart clinical trials. The device, which gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late 2011, takes over the work of an ailing heart until the patient can get a transplant, or until the heart becomes strong enough to function again on its own.
While on the Berlin Heart, Grace had a stroke. She had lost about a third of her brain mass and was scratched from the transplant list. She was not expected to survive. But she did—to the surprise and delight of her family and medical team.
Grace recovered and went home in July 2008, but a few years later, she went into cardiac arrest and was reconnected to the Berlin Heart while awaiting a heart transplant.
In the fall of 2012, Grace got a new heart at Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The transplant was a tremendous success.
Now 4 years old, Grace has a normal life: being in preschool, enjoying the family’s new dog, romping on the swing set, and playing (and fighting) with her sister.
“She doesn’t hurt anymore,” says Grace’s mom, Jenny O’Masta. “She’s a different kid.”