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.