As Kayla laid in the intensive care unit (ICU) her family and partner rallied around to care for her three-week-old baby and prepare for the worst. Kayla’s heart was failing, and she was in need of life-saving surgery.
Disassociated from the terrifying reality she was facing as a new mum and only 24-years-old, Kayla went in for heart surgery to be fitted with a mechanical heart pump, known as a ventricular assist device (VAD) - to keep her heart working as she waited for a heart transplant.
The cause of Kayla’s heart failure is unclear. At the age of nineteen she underwent multiple surgeries and nine-months of chemotherapy to beat bone cancer. After going through a traumatic birth with her now 11-month-old son Noah, she was told she would likely go into heart failure.
Only shortly after arriving home with Noah, Kayla was rushed to the ICU and placed on life support. During the month Kayla spent in the ICU she was not well enough to receive a heart transplant, even if one had become available.
Now, after months of rehab and being cleared of cancer, she’s in stable health with her VAD and has joined the waiting list for a life-changing transplant.
“You can’t get your VAD wet, so the thing I’m most excited about after I’ve had a heart transplant is that I’ll be able to do swimming lessons with Noah,” Kayla said.
Kayla has learnt how to care for a new baby and how to live with a VAD simultaneously. Living the with possibility that she could be called in for a heart transplant at any hour, means Kayla and her family have to be prepared.
“You’ve got to be positive to get a positive outcome - but it’s nerve racking, I answer every private number that calls. Every night I make sure my phone is on loud before I go to bed, so I don’t miss the call. You learn to not take anything for granted,” Kayla said.
Without the generosity of organ donors, transplantation would not be possible. Find out more about donation at https://donatelife.gov.au/registering-be-donor.