When Julia Taylor was 8, she received a pacemaker to help
restore and maintain her heart’s proper rhythm, which had become too low. Doctors
had diagnosed a heart rhythm abnormality, a congenital complete heart block,
before she was born, but up until around the age of 8, Julia had enjoyed a
medically uneventful childhood in Spotsylvania, Va. Within a few months after
she received the pacemaker, she was playing soccer again.
About two years later, in January 2008, and after a
misdiagnosis of her lethargy and continue vomiting as mononucleosis or
hepatitis A, an ultrasound scan revealed congestive heart failure. In critical
condition, she was flown to Children’s National Medical Center in
Washington, D.C. Hospitalized for much of January and February, she received a
new pacemaker and began a new drug regimen, part of a dual effort to repair her
heart. That summer, Hopkins Children’s cardiologist Janet Scheel, called in on
Julia’s case, foresaw the possible need for a heart transplant.
By the fall, as her physicians’ optimism that her heart
could recover waned, surgeons implanted in her chest a cardioverter
defibrillator (ICD) as a preventative measure.
Julia’s health and spirits declined. By December, she was
sleeping 15-20 hours a day and had missed months of school. Her family was told
she would need a heart transplant, and soon.
In February 2009, she suffered a stroke and collapsed in her
bedroom. Flown first to DC Children's, she was transferred to Hopkins Children’s, where
she underwent a heart transplant, March 1, 2009. That fall, Julia returned to
school full-time and is once again playing soccer. As she looks towards her
future, she envisions a career as a journalist, actress or pediatric nurse.