Hanas’s Story

Captain of the Cheer Squad Underwent Heart Transplant at 14 Years Old

Hanas Giant Cell Myocarditis Shocked Her Family

As told by Hanas mom, Barbara Hornbeck

Hanas Giant Cell Myocarditis Shocked Her Family
Hana Hornbeck

The first time I heard the word myocarditis was the day my 14 year old, healthy daughter was hospitalized in Phoenix. This was my first shock to be followed by many more.

As it turned out, Hana was suffering from giant cell myocarditis or GCM. We would not find this out till it was too late to save her heart due to the fact that GCM can only be detected through a heart biopsy. GCM is extremely rare and lethal. Heart failure progressed in Hana and she was rushed to UCLA.

Aggressive drugs, countless blood tests, procedures, constant monitoring and numerous surreal conversations with ICU physicians and Cardiology. Within days, Hanas heart stopped. When she coded and was gone for a few minutes, a young anesthesiologist performed CPR and I know saved her so we could make it to the next step.

Hana went from different life support bridges in a whirlwind of three open heart surgeries back to back due to complications. We now knew that a heart transplant was the only option. How could this happen to a young athlete and captain of the cheer squad? She went on the list for heart transplant and Hana existed on a very scary and I can say painful device called BiVAD at UCLA from October 2009 till December 30th 2009. That was the day she was transplanted.

I thank God for her strength to get through this and for her donor and their family, I can only express the gift they gave saved me as well. We were finally able to return home to Phoenix in April 2010.

Hana is an amazing young woman and I want to share her story. What she experienced was so unexpected. She is back in school and was back to cheering seven months after her transplant! Currently, she is getting ready to compete in the Miss Teen Arizona Pageant coming up November 2011. She has already won in my eyes and I am her biggest fan!