- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) - Emily Hume has a lot to celebrate.

The Seymour Middle School seventh-grader fought an unknown virus that attacked her heart last year, underwent a heart transplant in March after a failed attempt almost a month before and is now getting back into her old routines at home after leaving the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis a few weeks ago.

All of this just in time to celebrate her 13th birthday Wednesday.

“All along we kept saying, ‘The best birthday present ever would be to be home on your birthday,’” Emily’s mom, Linda Hume, told The Tribune (http://bit.ly/1hCMJ6H ). “We made it, didn’t we?”

Emily smiled, sitting in a recliner at the Humes’ home, wearing sparkly, pink slippers that she received as a gift from a nurse. Her cheeks slightly full from steroid medications, she wore a bright, pink T-shirt that read “Heart of an Owl” on the front. Friends and family sported the shirt in Emily’s honor when she was away at the hospital.

“It’s been good,” Emily said. “I feel like now that I’m home I’ve gotten a lot stronger.”

Since July, Emily has spent almost every minute at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis battling a form of cardiomyopathy, which weakens the heart.

She eventually was listed as a status 1A on the United Network for Organ Sharing - the highest status a patient can receive on a heart transplant list. She had one failed transplant attempt when a donor heart was deemed too weak for her; but on March 21, she had a successful transplant surgery.

The donor’s information is kept confidential, but Emily said she will have a chance to write the family a letter.

She came home April 25, greeted by an assortment of balloons and “welcome home” signs from the community, which still decorate the Humes’ household. On Wednesday, Emily received good news from the doctors about her recent biopsy.

“They said it came back negative and no signs of rejection,” Linda Hume said. “It’s like ‘Hallelujah!’”

Before receiving the donor heart, Emily was attached to a Berlin Heart through her abdomen to strengthen her weakened heart. She nicknamed the device “Bernie” and recalls it being one of the most uncomfortable times at the hospital.

“It hurt sometimes,” Emily said. “I couldn’t move my legs in some positions because it would dig.”

“With the Berlin you always had to lay on your back,” her mom added.

Linda Hume said maintaining family life was one of the hardest parts. She took time off of her job at Redding Elementary School as a third-grade teacher and her husband, Jim Hume, who works at Aisin U.S.A, made numerous trips to Indianapolis and took care of their other daughter, Lindsey, who is a student at Seymour High School.

Story Continues →