Rough Beginnings, Now Running: 12-year-old’s Dream Comes True

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-35282" src="" alt=" After a heart transplant and two months of cardiovascular rehabilitation, Mischa Melby finally rejoined her classmates on the ground. game "width =" 805 "height =" 453 "/>

After a heart transplant and two months of cardiovascular rehabilitation, Mischa Melby finally joined his classmates on the playground.

Like most 12-year-olds, Mischa Melby loves running. She goes up the stairs. She runs in gym class. She must walk in the hallways at school. But if given the option, she would probably run there too.

Although the race is natural for most children, for Misha it was a difficult achievement. "I did not know how to run," she says.

But after a journey that lasted for years and brought her from an orphanage in China to North Dakota at Mayo Clinic and involved several surgeries – including a heart transplant and Cardiac Rehabilitation Month – The Preadolescence. is not only running but jumping, swimming and cycling on a tandem cycle with his father.

Kasara Mahlmeister, a clinical exercise physiologist in Mayo's Cardiovascular Health Clinic along with the rest of the cardiac rehabilitation staff, worked with Mischa after his heart transplant. They saw Mischa turn from a frail and frightened child into an active child with a healthy attitude.

"When she came to see us for the first time, we could say that she was scared," says Mahlmeister. "She was shy, she did not smile, when she left, she knew us all by name, she smiled, she even had some foolishness with some of us, it was fun to work with her. "

For Mischa, the fun was just beginning.

Heart Disease

Adopted from China in 2011 while she was 6 years old, Mischa was born with a [[ventricule droit double] in her heart. The cardiac malformation was not treated during his early years. When Mischa captured the heart of her parents at the orphanage, she had a slightly bluish pallor, weighed 22 pounds, and was barely functional.

"When we first got her, she had nothing," her mother said, Karen. "She had no Chinese language, she did not even know how to drink water in a cup, she had never touched the green grass, she was terrified at the The idea of ​​walking on it, she was terrified by the animals the rest of her life. "

"She had no complication, her recovery was remarkable, it was pretty obvious right away … that things were starting to change." – Karen Melby

Before Mischa left the orphanage, she underwent cardiac surgery that increased the oxygen saturation rate of her blood to 70%. As soon as possible, returning to their home in Williston, North Dakota, the family drove 14 hours to the Mayo Clinic Rochester Campus where Mischa was seen in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic performed a procedure known as the Fontan procedure to further increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.

<img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-35283" src="" alt=" Mischa Melby with Dr. Joseph Dearani. "Width =" 300 "height =" 300 "/> While this surgery increased Misha's energy, she continued to lag physically and mentally behind her peers. developed loss of protein enteropathy or PLE, which causes the release of protein in the intestines.

"Once you start to lose protein, you start putting fluid," says Karen. "She could put 15 pounds of fluid in two weeks, she could barely breathe with all that liquid and had to evacuate it."

Her family made regular 28-hour visits to the Mayo Clinic to drain the extra fluid. They knew that this course was not viable.

"It's hard to live with PLE," says Karen. "She has not left for a long time without receiving the gift of a heart transplant."

Mischa was placed on the waiting list for a new heart. Her family moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to get closer to the Mayo Clinic when a heart became available. In March 2017, the call came. Under the direction of the Mayo Clinic cardiothoracic surgeon Joseph Dearani, M.D. Mischa received his new heart.

Courageous Restoration

Only 10 days after his heart transplant, Mischa was released from the hospital at Ronald McDonald House of Rochester .

"She had no complications, her recovery was remarkable," Karen says. "It was pretty obvious right away, even before we came back to Ronald McDonald House, things were starting to change."

"We design the program around patients and their interests because it is important to regain their level of activity." – Kasara Mahlmeister

Mischa's energy level has increased. His coloring became normal, and the brain fog that had surrounded Mischa all his life began to rise.

She also began attending cardiac rehab sessions three times a week. At first, the sessions were discouraging.

<img class="alignleft wp-image-35284" src="" alt=" Mischa Melby "width =" 170 "height =" 227 "/> " I remember riding a bike, "says Mischa. It was a little scary at first. I do not want to try because I have not done it before. "

Before long, however, Mischa began to wait for cardiac rehabilitation. The sessions, designed especially for her, included the use of a Nintendo Wii balance board to play games like alpine skiing. Mischa used a timer given by her therapists to keep track of her lap times. A personal identification badge, like the ones her therapists wore, was created for Mischa, and she wore it faithfully to her sessions every day.

"Doing your exercises has become the most important part of your day," says Karen. "She dressed well in advance and was ready to leave, it was as if a whole world was opening up to her."

Mahlmeister says that rehab specialists strive to make the sessions fun.

"We design the program according to the patients and their interests, because it is important to find their level of activity," says Mahlmeister. "This will improve their overall quality of life, so we want to do our best to give a good overall experience."

Reaching for his objectives

The Mischa Rehab team asked her what she wanted to do and the goals that she would like to take. The number one goal of Mischa was to be able to run with the kids at school.

"She had never run before," says Karen. "And she started running, jumping and climbing stairs, she loves her new freedom to do things."

Karen says that the support provided by the Mischa therapists has accelerated her rehabilitation.

"The people of cardiac rehabilitation, they were incredible, from the moment of your salvation," she said. "It was really a wonderful experience, and it helped her to recover."


Tags: Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Cardiovascular Health Clinic Cardiovascular Surgery Dr. Joseph Dearani Center Mayo Clinic Pediatric Cardiac Transplant Program Pediatrics Transplantation


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