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Girl celebrates 10 years with transplanted heart

On Oct. 20 Cydney Maiden 10 Joliet along with her parents Carlos KarlMaiden celebrated Cydney's 10-years transplant living. Cydney was

On Oct. 20, Cydney Maiden, 10, of Joliet along with her parents, Carlos and Karla Maiden, celebrated Cydney's 10-years of transplant living. Cydney was only 6-months-old when she received a heart transplant. About 160 guests joined them.

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:06AM



Recently, Cydney Maiden, 10, of Joliet saw plenty of red: red shirts, red jackets, red trousers and red ties.

For a girl who almost didn’t live to see her first birthday, that’s a good thing. On Sept. 20, 160 of Cydney’s family, friends and fellow parishioners at St. Mark Christian Methodist Church in Joliet gathered at the Knights of Columbus Joliet Council #382 to celebrate 10 years of a successful heart transplant.

Cydney, who also has Asperger’s syndrome, received that lifesaving heart on Oct. 17, 2002, when she was just 6 months old. At her recent “heart day” party, guests wore red to support this triumphant milestone and to cheer on the victories yet to come.

“I am her biggest advocate,” Karla Maiden, Cydney’s mother said. “I work hard to get every physical and mental opportunity out there for her. If it’s available, I want her to have it.”

For Cydney to have thrived this much is a miracle.

According to a Medscape article “Pediatric Heart Transplantation” by Dr. Richard E. Chinnock, medical director of Pediatric Heart Transplant Program at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital in California, advances in pediatric heart transplants have allowed 70 percent to 80 percent of recipients live for five years or more.

However, many young recipients who survive past the 10-year mark often require a second transplant, although children who receive their new heart in the first year of life, as Cydney did, experience fewer complications, including rejection.

Furthermore, some pediatric heart transplant survivors are now witnessing their 20-year anniversaries. Nevertheless, pediatric heart transplants are still rare, mostly because of the low availability of pediatric donor hearts.

Karla hopes that soon changes.

“Other than taking care of Cydney, my No. 1 goal in life is making sure all people are registered organ donors,” Karla said.

Nothing in Karla’s pregnancy hinted at heart trouble for Cydney. Cydney’s health difficulties began after birth. She ate fitfully—a few sips interspersed with naps—and cried more than the average baby. At the time, Karla attributed it to colic, although she noted Cydney never smiled.

Cydney’s older brother had asthma, so when Cydney began coughing and wheezing, her doctor prescribed a similar treatment. The doctor also ordered a chest X-ray to rule out other disorders because Cydney had dropped from her 7-pound birth weight to a mere 4 pounds. The chest X-ray was normal.

In June 2002, when Cydney was about 3 months old, the asthma medication failed and Karla rushed Cydney to the hospital. Additional testing showed Cydney’s heart was so enlarged—about the size of a balloon, Karla said—it was barely pumping.

Cydney was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago). Within days, Cydney was added to the transplant list. A new heart was her only chance for survival. Karla had some tough decisions to make.

“Her father Carlos and I did not want to see her die,” Karla said. “But in order to get Cydney a heart of that same size, we had to ask for another baby to die.”

Karla voted for the heart transplant. Family and friends hosted a fundraiser in September; Cydney received her new heart a month later. Karla read book after book, trying to comprehend Cydney’s experiences.

As she studied, Karla also learned how to care properly for Cydney, who required 15 medications daily; frequent blood work, EKGs and echocardiograms; and plenty of therapy after she returned home.

Cydney and her new heart worked well together until 2008, when Cydney went into kidney failure. She spent eight weeks in the hospital to avoid a kidney transplant. That stay included time on a ventilator in a pediatric intensive care unit, peritoneal dialysis and plenty of treatments with frozen plasma.

Today, although Cydney no longer receives an intense regime of speech, developmental, physical and occupational therapy, she still receives special services tailored to her needs.

Karla’s goal is for Cydney, when she turns 18, to live as independently as possible, perhaps in a group home.

“I won’t be here forever to help her,” Karla said.



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