This family made a difference

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Her smile alone sold the story.

When we saw a post online a few weeks ago from Donate Life Virginia about 13-year-old Jasmine Chalmers’ preparations to stay in a Charlottesville hospital while she awaited a new heart, we were hooked by her story, but her smile reeled us in.

Today, just a little more than a month after we ran a version of that story in our paper, Jasmine can smile afresh at the thought of the new opportunities that lie before her. Jasmine received a transplanted heart in a 13-hour procedure that took place Dec. 11 and 12 at University Hospital in Charlottesville.

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After six days of sedation following the surgery, doctors began to awake Jasmine and start getting her moving. By Christmas, she was able to move around her floor well enough to hand out candy to other patients.

There’s still plenty of recuperation ahead for Jasmine, and she will have to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. But the simple fact that doctors were able to replace the heart that had suffered from congenital defects discovered when Jasmine was an infant means that her prospects are better than they have been in years.

By the time Jasmine was 5, the family knew she would eventually need a heart transplant, but she’s only been on the waiting list since last September. The defect caused her to grow more slowly than other kids her age, left her with no appetite and low energy and caused her heart valves to leak and cause swelling and fluid in her lungs. She went in the hospital in November, and it was determined she would have to stay until she received a transplant.

Thanks to an unknown family that made the choice — during what must have been a time of unbelievable pain and sorrow — to donate a loved one’s organs, Jasmine now has a chance to come home to Suffolk soon. Maybe she’ll even return to school. Almost certainly she’ll be able to see her family and friends.

We salute this anonymous family for its courageous and compassionate choice. If you would like more information about how you can make a similar difference in another’s life, visit