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"I'm actually alive now" | Le Bonheur's 50th heart transplant recipient shares her story of a second chance

Ella Morrissey was placed on the transplant list in November and just 19 days later received her new heart.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital recently performed its 50th heart transplant and the teen who received is sharing her story of her second chance.

It’s not something you think about often, your heart, unless something goes wrong.

“You would see everyone your own age, like being normal, like running around," said Ella Morrissey. "It's normal for everyone else, but you don't really understand how difficult it is until you're in like, these shoes.”

At 10 years old, the now 17-year-old Morrissey passed out at school. 

Her family discovered she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. The disease causes the heart muscle to become abnormally thick (hypertrophied).

It makes things like simply walking up a hill difficult.

“I had to quit gymnastics at the time,” said the teen. "It was like my favorite sport. I just had to stop all physical activity. I couldn't run, it got to the point where I couldn't even go upstairs. I just got a lot of fear, anxiety, everything.”

Ella’s mom researched Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, discovering there was a relatively short wait time for heart transplants. The family then moved from Kansas to Memphis for treatment at the Heart Institute at Le Bonheur.

She was recommended to the hospital four years ago and received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) on day 10 due to her risk of cardiac arrest and was managed on medication until September 2021, when her condition started to deteriorate.

Ella’s heart required four shocks from her ICD due to a severe arrhythmia. “Turns out it was right because I got it in under a month, which was incredible,” said Morrissey. “So yeah, we really love the Le Bonheur. The team there, my transplant team, they’re the greatest.”

She was placed on the transplant list in November and just 19 days later received her new heart, making her Le Bonheur’s 50th heart transplant.

“I got the call from my transplant coordinator and bawled my eyes out,” Morrissey shared. “Because, you know, it's like a new start. It's like my second chance."

A second chance, which allows her to now not think twice about walking up those hills.

“I would just be a walking zombie and now like, I feel like alive, like, I'm actually alive now.”