Jasmine's New Heart

Jasmine Figueroa (center) and her two daughters.Jasmine Figueroa was an athletic child who enjoyed playing running, bowling and playing handball with her friends in the Bronx. After age 10, she was treated for bronchitis and asthma. At 13, she developed a heart murmur, and was referred to the Children's Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian where she was diagnosed with HCM.

For the next few years, pediatric cardiologists were able to control Jasmine's symptoms with minimal medication. Her life returned to normal–with a few restrictions–at age 19, a healthy Jasmine gave birth to her first child.

At age 21, however, Jasmine developed an arrhythmia and needed an implantable defibrillator. By age 24, she had progressed to heart failure, and Dr. Mathew Maurer put her on the transplant list.

After waiting for two years, Jasmine finally received a donor heart. She recovered well from the surgery, and less then two years later, she was thriving—going to the gym four times a week and studying to become a pastry chef. "I felt like a phoenix," she said. "The transplant gave me a new life. When I got my new heart, all the physical restrictions I experienced with HCM were lifted. I also gained a new support group as I got to know the family of my donor."

As she approached 30, Jasmine was well enough to have a second child, and to think about opening her own pastry shop. She had much to look forward to.

In 2010, Jasmine turned 32—by then, she was working as a pastry chef, and attending classes in business administration, in addition to being a full-time mom. But she admits she may have been pushing herself a bit too hard.

When Jasmine complained of shortness of breath and general exhaustion, Dr. Donna Mancini at NewYork-Presbyterian did an echocardiogram and discovered that Jasmine's new heart was only functioning at 40%. She prescribed steroids and anti-rejection medications commonly given to transplant patients.

Jasmine bounced back, knowing that she had to take care of her two young daughters who both carry the gene for HCM.

"My 16 year-old is on medication and each year she gets an Echocardiogram and an EKG at NewYork-Presbyterian Children's Hospital," Jasmine reports." She can't run or overwork herself with high-impact aerobics, but in every other way, she's a normal teenager."

Jasmine's 4 year-old also goes for a yearly follow-up but so far has shown no symptoms of HCM.

"The doctors here are so wonderful," Jasmine says. "They know our family history, and we trust them to they stay on top of things."

One day both of Jasmine's girls may need heart transplants. But Jasmine, now 33, has confidence both in the HCM team at NewYork-Presbyterian, and in modern medicine. "In my childhood, HCM was pretty much a death sentence," she says. "Today, there are so many innovations available, so many ways to help my girls."