MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – February isn’t just a month of love, but it’s also the time when we focus on health. According to the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, one in every 100,000 children in the United States under the age of 18 is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle is thicker than usual, making it hard for the heart to pump blood through the body.
Victoria and John Bullock had just finished their journey of becoming foster parents when they received news of a little girl. Dajialyn was a medically fragile two-month-old who was in immediate need of foster parents.
It would be a couple of weeks before the Bullock’s could meet Dajialyn.
“They told us at the hospital that she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,” Victoria Bullock told News 19.
Dr. Waldemar F. Carlo, Medical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplantation at Children’s Alabama said while Dajialyn had a sickly heart, the team at Children’s Alabama performed risky heart surgery.
“The extent of her heart condition could not be further cured by surgical means and so eventually we shifted our attention to cardiac transplantation,” Carlo said.
After that, at three months old, Dajialyn was listed for a heart transplant, under the “1B,” category, which allowed her to wait at home. While they waited, the Bullock family would drive monthly to Birmingham to take Dajialyn for routine tests.
On July 15, 2021, 15 months after she was put on the list, the Bullock family got the call that there was a heart available.
“It was a ton of different emotions, I was sad because I knew that a family was losing a loved one but I was also happy. Because that heart was saving my baby’s life,” Bullock said.
But, the journey from beginning to end, was not easy.
“We had two hours to get to Birmingham, she went into surgery at about 7 a.m. and she was in surgery for 10 hours,” Bullock said she wouldn’t be able to see Dajialyn till the next day, “She was on the ventilator for a day and then she started trying to wake up.”
Once the doctors saw that she was more responsive, they took her off the ventilator, “She immediately started rolling on her belly with all the wires hooked up to her. She was standing up the next day, she was the fastest recovery that they’ve seen.”
Bullock says they’re learning to keep up with Dajialyn.
“Before the transplant, she would sleep most of the day and now she’s talking more, she’s all around the house, she’s got so much energy. I think she’s making up for lost time,” Bullock said with a smile on her face.
Dajialyn was the first child in Alabama to receive a heart transplant while in foster care. Not only did she find a new heart but she found a new family to match. The bullock’s adopted her in November of 2021.
Dajialyn will have to have routine heart checkups for the rest of her life, but her parents say she continues to surprise doctors every visit with how well she’s doing.