Every day, Partners HealthCare clinicians provide patients with new chances to live life to the fullest and embrace previously inconceivable activities. For Camille Frede, the idea of swimming was once out of the question. Diagnosed at age 4 with a hole in her heart and pulmonary hypertension—high blood pressure in the lungs—she was initially given a five-year life expectancy.
"We would go on family bike rides, and I would turn blue and short of breath," Camille says. So her family modified its lifestyle, visiting Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) for frequent visits with Aaron Waxman, MD, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Pulmonary Heart Disease.
While Camille did well for several years, her condition inevitably worsened—if pulmonary pressure stays high, eventually the heart enlarges and pumps blood less efficiently. Last October, Frede and her family realized they were running out of time; a transplant was her only remaining option. And not just any transplant: a heart-lung transplant, a delicate surgery BWH hadn’t performed in 25 years.
"Her disease was really in the lungs, but Camille was born with a congenital abnormality. So even though her heart function was okay, we couldn't technically make all the connections in the right places without changing everything," says Hari Mallidi, MD, who got the call that organs were available for Camille and was part of the large multidisciplinary team that performed the 10-hour surgery this spring.
After the first tenuous post-surgical hours, Camille’s condition was stable, and six months after surgery, she is doing well and looking ahead. On her list: learning to swim, working as a nurse, and adjusting to her new normal, free of health concerns.