Vanessa Williams is just like any other 18-year-old — preparing for college and dreaming of a career as a singer and dancer.
But there’s one distinct difference – she’s on her third heart.
Born with a life-threatening condition that prevented her heart from properly developing, Williams underwent her first heart transplant at just 7-weeks-old, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
She lived normally until she developed coronary artery disease about two years ago. The diagnosis required her to be put back on the national waiting list for a new heart.
"In the 1980s, nobody was sure whether the heart would last, whether it would be capable of growing and developing with the child," Dr. Daniel Bernstein, chief of the pediatric cardiology program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., told the Chronicle. "We now know that the heart grows with them."
In January, Williams underwent her second transplant is now recuperating. She plans to graduate from high school in a few months, and then attend college.
"She has been doing remarkably well," said Bernstein, her transplant cardiologist. "It would be nice if this is the last transplant she will ever need. But what we're doing will hopefully keep her alive for 25 or 30 years. And who knows what we'll be doing after that."
In the United States, more than 300 heart transplants are performed every year on minors. In recent years, the number of youths who need a repeat transplant has risen to about7 percent, according to the report.