13-year-old heart transplant recipient encourages others to consider organ donation

13-year-old Mason girl contracts virus that leads to heart failure

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - In a matter of days, a seemingly healthy 13-year-old Mason girl went from playing softball to fighting to stay alive.

As she recovers from a life-changing surgery, she and her loved ones are hoping to both caution and inspire the community.

Hope Weaver’s journey started back in June when she says she suddenly got sick.

At first, she only had a cough.

“I would get really bad pains like around my heart and chest area," Hope said.

Hope’s mother Stephanie Weaver says it turned out Hope had contracted a virus, and it was attacking one of her most vital organs, her heart.

“She was diagnosed with myocarditis, which is an enlargement of the heart," Stephanie said. “We did all the right things. It came from nowhere, and there is no prevention for it, so it’s just been a lot.”

Hope’s life changed rapidly. Stephanie said Hope wore a defibrillator vest, and then she got a pacemaker.

By November, Stephanie says, Hope was in full heart failure, so they added her to the transplant list and waited.

Hope Weaver
Hope Weaver (Source: Provided)

They used humor to get through each day until they finally got the call a couple of weeks ago. Hope was getting a new heart.

“You’re so excited, but then all of a sudden this rush of emotions, fear and nervousness about the operation, all if that happens all at once," Stephanie said.

In Hope’s case, Stephanie says they are lucky they caught her condition early. Her transplant was a success.

Stephanie’s advice to others is if something is off, even if it seems small, it is worth a trip to the doctor.

“If I hadn’t listened to her, it could’ve been so much worse," Stephanie said. "She could’ve needed kidneys. It could’ve affected her lungs. We could not be here today.”

Hope’s healing has only just begun as she will be dealing with heart issues for the rest of her life, but she is just thankful she is here to live it.

“If you can definitely be an organ donor, I would definitely do that because you could be saving somebody’s life, like mine," Hope said.

Stephanie hopes one day to meet Hope’s donor’s family.

Hope will have to be on five medications for the rest of her life, Stephanie says, so there is a fundraiser to help cover the cost of medical expenses.

“Hearts for Hope” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22 from noon-6 p.m. at Mt. Lookout Tavern, 3209 Linwood Ave., in Cincinnati. There will be prizes, giveaways and live music, according to organizers.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page or the Children’s Organ Transplant Association website.

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