Local teen fighting for her life waiting for a new heart

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DENVER -- A local family is hoping their teenage daughter can get a new heart this holiday season.

16-year-old Courtney Doell is being treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado, one of the leaders for this life-saving transplant. Courtney is experiencing heart failure. Medicines and mechanical devices haven’t been able to fix her heart. She was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy when she was 18 months old. She was doing well until she got a virus earlier this year, and it attacked her heart. Doctors told her family the damage was irreversible.

Courtney spent 10 weeks in the hospital, getting well enough to be listed on the transplant waiting list.

Her dad, Sheldon Doell said, “The fact she is now listed on the transplant list as A1, meaning a priority.”

The director of the Heart Transplant Program, Dr. Melanie Everitt, added, “Status 1A is the highest urgency, so patient donor organs go to sickest patient goes first. The evaluation process is very intense. The goal is to make sure the patient is going to do well with a new heart. It is a precious and limited resources so we want to make sure the rest of the body is healthy.”

Children’s Hospital Colorado has one of the largest heart transplant programs in the world. Their Heart Institute has performed more than 400 heart transplants since 1990. Their survival rates are among the highest in the nation. But they don’t have enough donors.

“We still have children die waiting for a heart transplant and that`s really difficult to watch any family go through," said Dr. Everitt. "There are not enough donor organs to fill the need so there are still people who die waiting for a heart transplant, so as a last resort we look for medications who support the heart.”

Courtney and her family are hoping to change that, by raising awareness of the importance of organ donations, not just for her, but for families everywhere.

“That one donor can save 8 lives, not just one life,” said Courtney's mom Shilo.

Courtney is waiting for the call that could give her a second chance at life.

“Families are very aware of the fact what is happening at that moment that is good for them is the result of a tragic moment for another family. They are very appreciative of the sacrifice,” Dr. Everitt said.

The Doell’s cannot say thank you enough, but they promise to make the most of a very precious gift.

“It`s going to change her life..and make her life better,” said Sheldon.

Dr. Everitt said she is very proud of her team and the patients make them all grateful for each day.

To help the Doell Family, visit their GoFundMe.

For more information about Children’s Hospital of Colorado’s Pediatric Heart Transplant program, visit their website.

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