Makana Kadoguchi of Gardena is one of the many patients who received Valentine’s Day cards at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But last Monday night, she received something even more special — a new heart.⠀
Diagnosed with a congenital heart block while still in the womb, the 11-year-old fifth-grader, whose name means “gift” in Hawaiian, was expected to live a relatively normal life. Equipped with a pacemaker by kindergarten, she loved to run track, paint and be a part of Girl Scouts–– and was able to do all this until last December.⠀
As a last-ditch effort, Makana received mitral valve surgery to ensure that her blood keeps moving forward through the heart. However, she was still showing signs of increased heart failure: nausea, sluggish, shortness of breath. Her doctors at CHLA had no choice but to put her on the heart transplant list and hope for the best possible outcome.⠀
Three months later, Makana was placed on a Berlin heart, a ventricular assist device that takes over the work of one or both sides of the heart. She and her family braced themselves as they anticipated the long wait for a heart. But four days later, the bittersweet news arrived.⠀
Makana received her new heart on Feb. 13, making Valentine’s Day just that much sweeter.
“This is the best she’s felt in a long time,” says Makana’s mom, Lisa Kadoguchi, who expressed gratitude for the gift of life that was given to her daughter.
“Just watching her smile now, it’s totally different” from a few days ago, Makana’s dad, Greg Kadoguchi, told CBS Los Angeles.⠀
Unable to speak immediately after surgery due to a breathing tube, Makana wrote on a whiteboard, “It’s scary at first, but in the end it’s the best thing ever.”
She was expected to be released sometime next week.