This Aspiring Cardiac Nurse Celebrates Her 1 year anniversary since her heart transplant

This Aspiring Cardiac Nurse Celebrates Her 1 year anniversary since her heart transplant

A former Norfolk State University undergrad reflects on the time she almost died.

1045
views

Jataria Johnson, who many know as NuNue or Newskii, was just 16 years old when she was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, a condition in which the heart doesn't pump blood as well as it should. This condition can run in the family, as it did in Johnson's case.

"It's like a heart problem. Just like people with asthma have trouble breathing, I have heart problems," Johnson said.

Despite her cardiologist recommending that she get a heart transplant, Johnson refused to do so at such a young age because she didn't think her heart was that bad.

"I wanted to do what most teens do which is work and party. I just looked forward to enjoying my high school career," Johnson said.

In August 2016 Johnson started school at Norfolk State University, a nearly 3 hour drive away from her hometown of Farmville, Virginia. However, it wasn't long before her health became worse.

"I was suffering. I had like six hospital visits," Johnson said.

Johnson said she did not want to worry her mother, so she did not confide in her mother until it was time for her to go to the hospital. However, Johnson said at her last visit to Sentara Norfolk General, the doctors told her that there were spots on her lungs and they believed it was a blood clot. It was then, that Johnson returned home for the spring semester.

March 2017 Johnson said she began experiencing really bad cramps in her stomach one day and she told her mom. At the time, Johnson's mother thought it was an appendicitis and recommended that Johnson go to the hospital.

"At that point, I was tired of going to the hospital. I didn't want any more bad news, " Johnson said.

Johnson was at Centra Southside Community Hospital for several hours before being transported to Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical Center where she was told that she was dying. Johnson said the doctor told her that her heart was pulling blood from all of her other organs to pump properly. Initially, Johnson was sent home with an IV drip but when she returned, she was told once more that her heart was failing.

May 2017 Johnson was given bridge-to-transplant therapy. As a part of her therapy, Johnson used a left ventricular assist device, which is a battery-operated, mechanical heart pump. Johnson said she used the LVAD for three weeks before getting a call on May 30, 2017 that someone, who Johnson didn't know due to confidentiality, had donated a new heart for Johnson.

"I cried from 1 p.m. until 7 a.m., when I got to the hospital," Johnson said.

Though most people usually have two hours to make it to the hospital when they get a call for a heart transplant before the next person on the list is called, Johnson said her experience was different because she has the rare blood Type AB-positive.

May 31, 2017 at 3 a.m. Johnson underwent surgery.

"During the process of a transplant, all of your organs are shut down and you're basically dead," Johnson said.

Following surgery, Johnson said patches and a rotating machine was used to awaken her organs again. After regaining her strength, Johnson recovered from her transplant within three weeks. Her doctors were shocked as that was the fastest recovery for a transplant they had ever seen and most people are in the hospital for a month or two. Johnson said she also became very thirsty and began urinating a lot. Soon after, Johnson found out she had diabetes.

Johnson said today she is doing better and takes insulin for her diabetes. December 2019 Johnson will be graduating from Centra College of Nursing a registered nurse. Throughout her journey, she said faith took her a long way, she developed a lifestyle she called "Bounce Back Nu," and she said her career goal changed.

"I used to want to be a pediatric nurse. Now I want to be a cardiac nurse. It inspired me how much technology and medicine changed my whole life around," Johnson said.

Johnson has no regrets about not getting her transplant when she was 16.

To anyone that has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, Johnson said, "I feel like you shouldn't worry as much because it's different levels to it. My case was different from my mom's. In my case, the medicine wasn't working and my heart percentage was declining. Just live your best life and take your medicine as you should."

Cover Image Credit:

Jataria Johnson

Popular Right Now

The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
135256
views

Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Michigan's Proposal Three

Why expanding voting access can only improve Michigan's democratic system

327
views

Last month, the Michigan Board of Canvassers gave the green light to a ballot proposal aimed at overhauling Michigan's electoral laws to add reforms like automatic and election day voter registration and straight ticket voting. A Detroit News Poll completed earlier this October showed "majority support" for the proposal and for good reason. From increasing voter enfranchisement to allowing for voters to vote more efficiently, this proposal can only help Michigan's population be more civically engaged by allowing more voters to get involved in the election process.

Although Michigan's voter turnout of 63% during the 2016 presidential election is higher than the national average of 58%, it is still lower than it was in previous years, such as when it was over 66% during the 2008 presidential election. Also, according to data from the Secretary of State, there are 200,000 Michiganders of voting age that are not registered voters. While this deficit seems small in comparison to Michigan's overall population of nearly 10 million, it is important that any number of potential voters can make all the difference in an important election. Recall that Trump only won Michigan by a little over 11,000 votes in the 2016 election. Maybe 200,000 additional votes could have made a difference. By allowing citizens of voting age to easily register to vote the day of an election through an automatic process that should reduce the level of work on the voter's part. While the specific details of this automated process are still being decided, there should be no reason to dispute Proposal Three in terms of voter enfranchisement, since involving more citizens in our electoral process is nothing if not meritorious.

Another important provision of Proposal Three is re-implementing the practice of straight ticket voting. This means that there will be an option on your ballot that automatically allows you to vote for all the the candidates in a political party in a single action. To explain, you would not have to bubble in each candidate individually if you intend to vote for only candidates of a single party. While opponents of this practice have argued that it decreases voter volition since it may encourage voters to not actually look at who is running for office and vote along overly partisan lines, approximately 30% of voters nationwide did not complete their ballots in recent elections nationwide. This may be because of the sheer number of candidates that larger voting districts may have. Chicago, while not in Michigan, has over 101 candidates on the average ballot. Larger regions in Michigan such as the metro-Detroit area likely have ballots that are similar in length and complexity to Chicago. By allowing people to vote for the political party they subscribe to in a quick and efficient manner through straight ticket voting, more voters may be incentivized to actually come out and vote in elections, which once again leads to Proposal Three increasing the democratic representativeness of Michigan elections.

As previously mentioned, Michigan voters will be deciding the fate of Proposal Three in the upcoming November 6th midterm elections. I strongly urge all Michigan voters to support this measure because, again, there simply is so much civic benefit to be gained at so little cost.



Related Content

Facebook Comments