AP NEWS

Mom anxious, hopeful for daughter, 13, who needs heart transplant

March 26, 2019

For years, League City resident Ashley Thomas had been waiting for a call to bring her daughter Cassidy, 13, to a hospital for a heart transplant.

Then she got that call on Feb. 23.

“I went through all of the emotions you can think of,” she said. “The whole range.”

The swirl of thoughts ranged from the promise of a new life for her daughter, gratitude that another family that had lost a member was making the donation and, since Thomas is a nurse, worry about possible complications that can arise from surgery.

Then it all came crashing down.

“She had run fever the week before,” Thomas said of Cassidy. “So, we got all the way up there (to Texas Children’s Hospital) and found out Cassidy couldn’t have the transplant.”

Cassidy’s health has always brought these types of ups and downs. Now the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a 501(c)3 organization based in Bloomington, Indiana, is helping raise funds to help the family meet transplant-related expenses. The web address for that campaign is https://bit.ly/2UcZtPo.

When she was born, Cassidy was diagnosed with a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia, which is essentially an electrical issue that causes an abnormally fast heartbeat. A cardiologist eventually diagnosed the child with a rare genetic condition called non-compaction cardiomyopathy in which a spongy network of muscle fibers in the lower left chamber of the heart fail to become compacted to be smooth and solid.

“She’s on continuous IV medication,” Thomas said. “Very small things exhaust her; so she doesn’t have much energy to do things. She can’t go to school; so she needs continuous care, which is very difficult with me being a nurse.”

Thomas, who has four children, has had to cope with a series of challenges. She has been single parent following her husband’s death in 2016.

In 2017, she was working as a nurse at Bay Area Regional Medical Center when the hospital closed without notice. That hospital is now being revived as the newest campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch.

“I went in to work at 4:45 a.m., and by 10 that morning, I didn’t have a job anymore,” Thomas said. “So, here I am with four kids, I’m the only person working, I’m the only one making money and trying to support everyone. I was just applying for stuff every day. Finally, I got a job ( in the Texas Medical Center).”

“My family is a very strong support and has been instrumental in helping me,” Thomas said. “I would definitely not make it without them. They all take turns watching her and bridge that gap from when I’m at work. I try to work, come home and do the best that I can with what I have. It’s hard.”

For more information on COTA, visit https://cota.org.