Stories about: transplant

Because of a donor: Three transplant recipients celebrate their successes

heart transplant
The gift of organ transplant can open a whole new world of opportunities to recipients. Please join us in celebrating all the members of Boston Children’s transplant community — including three who are enjoying successes made possible #becauseofadonor.

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Joshua’s journey to heart transplant

Nineteen-year-old Joshua has been a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital his entire life. Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart disease, Josh required five open-heart surgeries along his journey, and on Aug. 4, 2014, he received a heart transplant. Four months later, family members gathered for Thanksgiving dinner, each giving thanks. When it came time for Josh to speak, he said, “I am thankful for my new heart, and I am thankful to give it a very good home.”

Josh’s mom Barbara shares the family’s extraordinary journey.

Learn more about the Boston Children’s Heart Transplant Program.

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Nathan’s wild ride: An appendectomy, two transplants and the journey ahead

Nathan - intestine and kidney transplant recipient
Nathan, pre-transplant, during his Make-A-Wish trip to the San Diego Zoo

When the phone rang at the Natale family home in Loudonville, New York, during the early morning hours of Jan. 12, 2013, Nathan Natale knew exactly what it meant.

“My little sister had someone sleeping over. And I was like, ‘hello parents of friend, we gotta go.’”

The phone call was from Boston Children’s Hospital. A donor match had been found. The Natales quickly packed, hopped in the car and began the three-hour journey to the hospital for Nathan’s kidney and intestine transplant. But Nathan’s transplant journey didn’t begin here. It began five years earlier following a routine surgery.

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Mapping a way to medication adherence

Eighteen-year-old Maggie Mansfield, a communications major at Boston College, is a two-time double-lung transplant recipient — once, at age 4, due to a condition called pulmonary hypertension in which blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs is abnormally high, and again at age 7, when her body rejected the first transplant. Since then, Maggie has remained relatively healthy due in part to her strict medication regimen.

Maggie Mansfield
Maggie Mansfield

“Timing is the most challenging part of taking my medications,” Maggie says. “As I get older, I get busier. It’s not always easy to stop what I am doing and take my pills, but I try to keep my timing the same so I don’t throw off my labs.”

Medication adherence is critical to the long-term health of an organ recipient. But taking upwards of 20 medications per day is often overwhelming, particularly for adolescents and young adults as they become more independent.

“I equate it to learning how to drive a car,” says Kristine McKenna, PhD, a psychologist in the Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Transplant Center. “We don’t just toss over the keys. There are a lot of steps to learning — getting a learner’s permit, practicing driving with a parent. And, again, we don’t just send them out to drive across the country when they get their license.”

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