Change of Hearts: Defying odds, 8-year-old is thriving after her third transplant

Seattle Times | JoNel Aleccia

Aiyana Lucas, 8, gets a kiss from her “Papa,” George Davis, in her room at Seattle Children’s. Many family members and friends have offered prayers and support throughout Aiyana’s ordeal. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Aiyana Lucas, 8, of Spanaway, is one of only three kids in her age group in the country to receive three heart transplants. Her family is rejoicing, even as her case highlights the hard decisions surrounding scarce organs.

Spanaway girl who waited seven months for a second heart transplant, only to have it fail, has dodged the odds, doctors say — receiving a rare third donor heart within a matter of days.

Eight-year-old Aiyana Lucas surprised even the surgeon who performed the latest transplants, one on July 3, and then a second, hectic, operation on July 6, when the third-grader’s window for survival was closing.

Last Tuesday, she was stringing beads, drawing pictures and giggling with her grandpa during a sun-dappled walk.

It makes you believe in a lot of things,” said Dr. Jonathan Chen, co-director of the Seattle Children’s Heart Center and division chief for pediatric cardiothoracic surgery. “It shows that transplantation is completely unpredictable in a spectacular way.”

Aiyana is the third child in the U.S. 10 and younger in the last decade to receive three hearts or heart-lung combinations — and one of three dozen patients of all ages, according to figures from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Continue reading