Paige Cunningham


"Paige Audrey Cunningham was born November 5, 2010. She was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at the age of 5 months (April 8, 2011). We had been treating Paige for acid reflux for several weeks and our pediatrician sent us to a GI specialist for further treatment. He ordered a chest Xray and it is there that he saw her enlarged heart. He immediately got us an appointment with a cardiologist at Scottish Rite where they performed an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of her heart) and saw that her left ventricle was very enlarged and was not pushing much blood out to the rest of her body. (This is called an ejection fraction. Normal people need an ejection fraction of 60% and Paige's heart was only performing at 15%.) We were immediately taken to Egleston in an ambulance where she was admitted into the CICU. We spent 5 weeks in the hospital (mostly in the Cardiac Stepdown Unit) trying to see if Paige's condition could be treated with medications; we weren't sure how her heart would respond. It was a bit of a roller coaster but the doctors and nurses were phenomenal -- so helpful and supportive. We were discharged on May 11, 2011 and were able to spend about 4 months at home, visiting the Transplant Clinic every few weeks for checkups. In September of 2011, we were readmitted to the hospital because Paige had some irregular lab results related to her kidneys. After further tests, the doctors determined that her heart function had declined further and now it was affecting her kidney function. Paige was placed on the transplant list on September 13 and we had to stay in the hospital to wait because Paige was put on IV medication to help her heart. We waited for Paige's new heart for 16 days. We received a call on the evening of September 29 and Paige's tranpslant took place in the early morning hours of September 30th. Amazingly we were discharged from the hospital on October 6 -- just 6 days after transplant! Since her transplant, Paige has undergone two biopsies: one month post-transplant and 6 months post-transplant, which showed that her body is accepting her new heart with zero rejection. We still have routine visits at the Transplant Clinic and Paige will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. Her next biopsy will take place at the end of September and will mark one year since her transplant. In the meantime, Paige has made great strides in her growth and development. Before transplant, she was being fed through a feeding tube. Now she drinks and eats like a normal toddler. While she is not walking just yet, she has become the master crawler; which is incredible, considering at 9 months old she was barely able to sit up on her own. Paige is also a big sister! Her twin sisters Ella and Avery were born on January 6. Paige is learning to share the spotlight a little bit but has really taken to "her" babies, giving them constant hugs and kisses and helping Mommy when she can.

“Again, we are thrilled with the opportunity to help raise money for CHOA. The cardiac doctors and nurses have become like a second family to us. Paige still loves to visit the Cardiac Stepdown Unit and show off her new tricks to all the nurses that took care of her for so long."

- The Cunningham Family