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11-Year-Old Girl Gets a New Heart for Valentine’s Day

Makana Kadoguchi (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)

Makana Kadoguchi of Gardena is one of the many patients who received Valentine’s Day cards at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But last Monday night, she received something even more special — a new heart.⠀

Diagnosed with a congenital heart block while still in the womb, the 11-year-old fifth-grader, whose name means “gift” in Hawaiian, was expected to live a relatively normal life. Equipped with a pacemaker by kindergarten, she loved to run track, paint and be a part of Girl Scouts–– and was able to do all this until last December.⠀

As a last-ditch effort, Makana received mitral valve surgery to ensure that her blood keeps moving forward through the heart. However, she was still showing signs of increased heart failure: nausea, sluggish, shortness of breath. Her doctors at CHLA had no choice but to put her on the heart transplant list and hope for the best possible outcome.⠀

Three months later, Makana was placed on a Berlin heart, a ventricular assist device that takes over the work of one or both sides of the heart. She and her family braced themselves as they anticipated the long wait for a heart. But four days later, the bittersweet news arrived.⠀

Makana received her new heart on Feb. 13, making Valentine’s Day just that much sweeter.

“This is the best she’s felt in a long time,” says Makana’s mom, Lisa Kadoguchi, who expressed gratitude for the gift of life that was given to her daughter.

“Just watching her smile now, it’s totally different” from a few days ago, Makana’s dad, Greg Kadoguchi, told CBS Los Angeles.⠀

Unable to speak immediately after surgery due to a breathing tube, Makana wrote on a whiteboard, “It’s scary at first, but in the end it’s the best thing ever.”

She was expected to be released sometime next week.

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