A typical 18-year-old, Samantha Johnson enjoys dancing, playing basketball, photography, singing in her high school choir and looking forward to college. From all appearances Samantha lives a normal life and if she didn’t show you her scars you would never know that she had a heart transplant at six-weeks of age.
Samantha was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect where the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped – including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve. This heart defect is usually fatal within the first days or month of life unless it's treated.
When she was just three days old, Samantha had her first bypass surgery, followed by her heart transplant several weeks later.
Congenital heart defects impact 1 out of every 125 births each year. In fact, they are the leading cause of birth defects among children born in the United States every year. Not long ago, children born with complicated heart defects, such as Samantha’s, did not survive. Because of ongoing research and improved technology, funded by the American Heart Association, these children have a fighting chance.
Samantha has supported the work of the American Heart Association since she was 13 years old. Today she continues to spread our lifesaving message by speaking to the Central Arkansas Sweethearts, as well as organizing her own Heart Walk team, raising funds and awareness so that others may also have a fighting chance.