Local heart transplant recipient headed home

State Gazette 
Stephanie Smith is pictured here with her son, Ashton Sartain. Smith underwent a heart transplant in March but is in rejection of the donated heart. The family continues to seek donations to assist with medical costs.

A simple act of kindness can go a long way, just ask Dyersburg resident JoAnne Ward. Numerous donations from community members helped a stressful situation become a little easier.

Ward's 38-year old daughter, Stephanie Smith, has battled heart disease her entire life. When Smith was 2 months old, the family found out she had thickening of the innermost lining of the heart chambers, a condition called endocardial fibroelastosis. In March, Smith was placed on a heart-transplant list. Ward had taken Smith for a checkup on March 3, 2015; there they discovered she was in congestive heart failure. More than half of her heart was already dead. Since then, Smith has been equipped with a new heart, but her body continues to reject the donated organ. The family has been living close to Vanderbilt Hospital. After months of living out of an Extended Stay in Nashville, Smith went home to Dyer County on Monday.

"She should be going home for good," Ward said. "She is doing great. She looks great. She is still in rejection but has had no problems with the beating or heart palpitations. She is happy she is getting to go home, but she is nervous about getting back into her normal routine."

Smith will required to be on medicine the rest of her life. The anti-rejection medicine is taken twice a day. Doctors do not believe Smith will be able to work again.

"Her immune system is completely to sleep, so she has to be careful about getting sick," Ward said. "The medication she will be on is really expensive. The first medication she took was more than $8,000." Continue reading

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