Ambassador Highlight: Meet Cat
This month, we feature miracle child Cat Chennell, who shares her story in her own words.
Hi, my name is Cat Chennell and I am a miracle child. Twelve years ago, on my 4th birthday, I was diagnosed with PPH, primary pulmonary hypertension, at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. PPH is a rare, usually , disease that affects the heart and lungs. Doctors told my family that I would probably not live to see my 5th birthday. My initial treatment included experimental drugs for PPH. At first they helped, but my conditioned worsened. My doctor referred my family and me to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. My mom and her parents moved us to Gainesville in fall 2006.
The team of doctors at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital was amazing. They developed a custom treatment plan, which included many new forms of medications and therapies. But my care team could only prolong the inevitable. I would need a heart and double lung transplant.
In May 2008, doctors admitted me to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital to wait for a heart and a pair of lungs to become available. I had my heart surgery March 28-29, 2009, and they released me to go home two weeks later. I had spent 345 days in the hospital.
The nurses told me that if I stayed one year they would name a room after me. I am here today because of God and the great team of doctors who treated me and continue to treat me even today. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provides great assistance to all of these children’s hospitals. It makes a tremendous difference to kids like me.
Today, Cat is a 16-year-old freshman who loves to draw, listen to all kinds of music, and share her story with others about how the hospital and medical team have helped her. She follows up with specialists at UF Health every three to four months and must take anti-rejection medications daily. She aspires to attend the University of Florida to pursue a nursing degree.