'At least ten times, we thought we were saying goodbye to her': Casselton toddler struggling after heart transplant

Inforum | Robin Huebner

Ember Carey, 21 months, of Casselton, N.D., is hooked up to a heart-lung bypass machine at a Minneapolis hospital after having a heart transplant.

FARGO - The parents of a toddler with a rare heart defect last kissed and cuddled with her the morning of July 16, the day she had a heart transplant. They're quietly looking forward to that opportunity again.

Ember Carey of Casselton, N.D., has already had many hardships in her young life, but none as tough as the "day-to-day battle" going on at a Minneapolis hospital.

The 21-month-old spent much of the last year hospitalized with complications of heart failure. Since her heart transplant at University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital more than two weeks ago, things have not gone well.

"At least 10 times we thought we were saying goodbye to her," said Joanie Carey, Ember's mother.

Carey said doctors told her and her husband, Nathan, that in most cases a transplanted heart "bottoms out," then bounces back on its own. Instead, Ember's heartbeat was very irregular after surgery, leading them to believe the donated organ wasn't as viable as first thought. Continue reading