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“I feel wonderful,” Teen heart transplant survivor reflects on journey

For American Heart Month we are sharing the journey of heart transplant survivor, Jaquavion “Qua” Johnson.
It’s been a long journey, dating back to his first heart surgery when he was just five days old, putting normality on hold.
Updated: Feb. 11, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - One Wiregrass teen has a new look on life after receiving a heart transplant. It’s been a long journey, dating back to his first heart surgery when he was just five days old, putting normality on hold.

“I like basketball, I like watching sports, playing video games and hanging out with friends,” Jaquavion “Qua” Johnson, heart transplant survivor, said.

These are activities that many teens, like Qua, enjoy. However, his life started off with a challenge. Qua was born with a rare congenital heart defect called tricuspid atresia.

“It’s a heart condition that is not survivable without surgical intervention at a major center like here at Children’s of Alabama and UAB,” Dr. Waldemar Carlo, Medical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplantation at Children’s of Alabama, said.

This condition forced Qua to undergo a series of operations early on in life.

“He had his first one when he was five days, he had his second one when he was 7 months and his third one he was like 2 and a half years old,” Marquitta Rivers, Qua’s mother, said.

From there, Qua lived a life like any other kid until issues progressed even further last March.

“He was just laying down, crying and upset, and I said, something ain’t right, I said, ‘Qua can you tell me what’s going on?’ And he said, ‘Mom I’m having a hard time breathing laying down,” Rivers said.

This brought Rivers concern, and led to another trip to the doctor where his mother was told Qua’s heart was not functioning properly.

“They was like, if his heart doesn’t show some type of improvement our next step is transplant,” Rivers said.

This news brought fear, to the forefront.

“Scary, it was just scary,” Qua said.

They turned to answering those fears with their faith.

“The first thing I did was just pray,” Rivers said.

And those prayers were answered. Qua received a new heart just two weeks later.

“They came out and told me about how that last heart looked, they said they don’t even know how he was standing,” Rivers said.

“I think back to when he got to us and he told us he played basketball competitively, and I said, ‘How do you do that with the heart the way it is?’ And to him, he was just such a strong kid, that he was able to push through,” Dr. Carlo said.

Rivers said she was honest with her son about the procedure.

“I was trying to explain to him, you know, well you got to get a new heart and he was like, ‘So they are going to have to take my heart and put a new one in?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’” Rivers said.

Along with her honesty, she showed a mother’s love and support.

“But look at it, you’ll have a longer lifespan, you may even get to play basketball,” Rivers said she told her son before the procedure. “Which that put the biggest smile on his face.”

And Qua said he was excited. Now, Qua is determined to be unstoppable.

“Pray and just keep your hopes up and just live life,” Qua said.

Today he is living life to the fullest, once again.

“I feel wonderful,” Qua said.

He thanks his family and friends for the support throughout this journey, and looks forward to reaching success in his future.

Click here to read more on Qua’s miracle story.

Copyright 2022 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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