Shelby Christopher of Keyes is recovering after receiving a new heart last weekend at a Southern California hospital, a family member said.
“She is just an amazing, resilient little lady,” said Glenda Coleman of Chowchilla, the child’s grandmother.
The family received a call Saturday that a donor heart was available for the 10-year-old girl, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Coleman said the heart transplant surgery was performed at UCLA Medical Center.
Shelby has been an inspiration to her fellow students at Keyes Elementary School. A school fundraising drive and other efforts raised $10,000 for the family, said Jeff Reed, president of the Keyes Union School District board.
Family members will need to stay in Southern California for at least three months while the girl recovers from the surgery.
On a community Facebook page, family posted pictures of the blond youngster showing a healthy complexion. Children with the congenital defect have an undeveloped left side of the heart, often giving them a grayish-blue skin color.
“She said her feet looked funny because they are not blue,” Coleman said Monday afternoon. “They are going to get her up to walk.”
Coleman said her granddaughter has been an active child, despite her heart condition. She would play with other kids on playground equipment and then become short of breath, requiring her to rest. When she started kindergarten, students at Keyes Elementary pulled her in a red wagon on the playground, Reed said.
Prior to the transplant, Shelby underwent a number of surgeries for her heart condition.
The girl’s father, Donald Christopher; mother, Melissa Crarry; stepmother, Autumn Neill; and Coleman are with the young patient at UCLA Medical Center. According to an online post, Shelby watched the San Francisco 49ers game on television and was eating ice chips Sunday.
With her new heart, the girl has goals of playing soccer and baseball. The family does not have any information on the heart donor, the grandmother said.
“We feel so blessed that someone was willing to let a family member donate their heart for Shelby,” Coleman said. “All we can do is pray for them and their family and their loss.”
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321