Avrie’s special anniversary

Delaware Gazette | Megan Neary

According to Delaware resident Avrie Nelms, age 6, her favorite part of her body is her scars because “they help me keep alive.”

The scars were the result of a heart transplant that Avrie received as a baby. On Sept. 13, Avrie and her family will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her transplant. According to Avrie’s mother, Melissa Nelms, the celebration is “bigger than [Avrie’s] actual birthday because not everybody gets to celebrate when their life was saved.”

Things changed quickly when Avrie got sick. She was born healthy but, at about a year old, she caught a virus which usually results only in flu-like symptoms. In her case, however, the virus attacked her heart until the only option was a heart transplant. She coded twice while in the hospital before she received the transplant.

Avrie eventually became the first Nationwide Children’s Hospital patient to receive a Berlin Heart while she awaited a transplant. The Berlin Heart was not FDA-approved at the time and Avrie was only able to receive it once her life expectancy was declared to be below 36 hours. The Berlin Heart allowed her to survive until she was able to receive a donation. Continue reading