NEWTON — Lanayah Rivera has a new heart for her birthday, which is also Valentine's Day.
Rivera just underwent transplant surgery in Kansas City, Mo., receiving a new heart at Children's Mercy Hospital.
"She was a normal, healthy kid. She was avid in soccer most of her life. She has played basketball with the rec center. She loves swimming and all kinds of things," said her mother, Pam Rivera. "She never had an issue. She had a little bit of asthma."
But things changed about two months ago, at the start of the basketball season. One day, Lanayah felt like she was having an asthma attack.
But this one was not normal.
"She took her inhaler, and it did not do anything. She took it a couple of hours later, and it still did not do anything," Pam said. "I took her blood pressure and her heart rate was 141, which is crazy high."
They went to the emergency room, where doctors found fluid in her lungs. Lanayah was sent home with medications. She didn't get better and went back to the doctor. Chest X-rays showed her heart was enlarged.
"As a mom, I was freaking out," Pam said. "I was going in with the idea that she just needed another inhaler to help her."
The next day, the pair saw a cardiologist in Wichita.
"He showed me with his hands how a heart should be pumping, and that her heart was basically spasming, not really pumping," Pam said. "She was airlifted from Wichita to Children's Mercy."
There, she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy — a condition in which the heart's ability to pump blood is decreased because the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is enlarged and weakened.
"Because your heart is working so hard to get to all of your major organs, it was not getting the blood flow to needed to her intestines and stomach," Pam said.
After five hospital stays, Lanayah was placed on the wait list for a transplant. On Jan. 20, the call came. Following an eight-hour surgery on Jan. 21, Lanayah had a new heart.
"I was very excited," Pam said. "She just wanted to get back to her normal life and being a kid. ... I was also very sad for the family who has lost someone. It was overwhelming."
A fund has been established for Lanayah to help with the expenses of the transplant and future transplant needs.