Lexi gets new heart

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By JESSICA PASLEY/ Special to the Courier

Michelle Browning never imagined her nursing skills would save the life of her youngest child. But without her natural instinct to begin CPR her daughter, 9-year-old Lexi, may not have survived after her heart suddenly stopped.

"We didn't know anything was wrong until June 9," said Lexi's mom, Michelle Browning. "We were at a friend's house for a get-together. Someone yelled that Lexi had fallen. I assumed it was one of those 'fall down and skin your knee' type of things, but she was in full cardiac arrest."

Lexi was rushed to the Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt where tests revealed the diagnosis - restrictive cardiomyopathy. Doctors told her parents her only option for long-term survival was a heart transplant.

Lexi spent more than a week at Vanderbilt while doctors worked to stabilize her condition, placed her on the heart transplant list and implanted a defibrillator in case her heart needed to be shocked back into rhythm while waiting on a new heart.

Today, Lexi is recovering after receiving that life-saving heart transplant on Jan. 17.

According to her cardiologist, Debra Dodd, M.D., her prognosis is excellent.

"Her chances of being alive 10-15 years down the road and longer are great," said Dodd, associate professor of Pediatrics. "She has really done well with her new heart and has had absolutely no issues.

"The miraculous thing, outside of her mom being able to jump in and provide CPR, giving her a second chance at life, is that she has really sailed through this transplant. Her new heart is working wonderfully."

Restrictive cardiomyopathy, the least common form in the United States, occurs rarely in children. With restrictive cardiomyopathy, the walls of the lower chambers of the heart become

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