A 15-year-old Camrose, Alta. girl has become one of the few patients to be taken off an artificial heart device because her own diseased heart healed itself.
"It's changed everything," Melissa Mills told CTV's Canada AM. "I have such a respect for life now."
Mills was sent to Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital last year after a sudden illness affected her heart and a transplant was urgently needed.
Her parents were told to prepare for the possibility that their daughter might not survive.
Doctors at the hospital implanted a Berlin Heart, a mechanical device worn outside the body that keeps blood pumping in a person with a damaged heart. The Stollery is one of a few facilities in Canada to work with the Berlin Hearts, which are the world's first mechanical hearts designed for children.
Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Montreal's McGill University Health Centre and Sainte-Justine Hospital also work with the artificial heart device.
With that done, Mills then waited for a heart to become available for a transplant. At one point, she was at the top of the North American transplant list.
But over the next few months, her condition improved dramatically. Her own heart regained strength and after 146 days on the Berlin Heart, Melissa underwent surgery to have the device removed.
"For sure it's a miracle," Dr. Holger Buchholz, a heart specialist, said Tuesday.