Big dreams with a new heart

Published 10:21 pm Friday, February 16, 2018

A future at Nansemond River High School and maybe a spot on the cheerleading squad are within reach for Jasmine Chalmers. Just over a year ago, she was sitting in a hospital in Charlottesville waiting for a heart.

Jasmine, 14, scooted around her living room with her oxygen tubes following close behind during a recent interview, and the smile never left her face as she sat next to her mother, Chaunta Chalmers.

“It’s been different,” Chaunta said. “After coming back, she did really well up until November when she got a virus that’s related to a transplant patient. We were back in the hospital for another 30 days.”

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Since her infection, Jasmine’s health has been on the rise. Last week doctors performed a test, and she is still experiencing zero rejection of the heart.

Her health does come at a cost. Jasmine takes eight different pills to manage fluids, rejection and a slew of other concerns. She also makes regular visits to the doctor, either in Charlottesville or locally at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters when the doctor visits here.

The constant medications and hospital visits aren’t anything to complain about for Jasmine. She takes everything in stride, and she focuses on the positives of every situation.

“It feels good to have a new heart,” Jasmine said. “It feels great.”

With a new heart came a better set of lungs and many other positives. Having a stronger heart pumping has allowed her breathing to improve, and eventually Jasmine will no longer need to have the oxygen tank with her.

“Before the transplant, she had no strength or stamina,” Chaunta said. “Now her breathing is better, she does not stay sick as long and most of the things we do are really just precautionary.”

Due to flu season and having a brand-new heart, Jasmine doesn’t make it out of the house often, but her parents always bring her to church. They agreed that was the one place they weren’t going to keep her away from.

“We don’t go out into big crowded places like the mall or the movie theater,” Chaunta said. “We don’t want her to catch anything.”

Though when someone coughs or sneezes, Jasmine’s advice is, “just slide away.”

Being house-bound isn’t the worst for Jasmine, because she’s just happy to be back in her room.

“The best part about being home is my bedroom,” Jasmine said.

Jasmine won’t be stuck at home too much longer. Doctors have given her the OK to start at public high school next year. This gives Jasmine the opportunity to maintain friendships and learn in a classroom.

“Being away in the hospital all the time, it’s hard for her to keep friends around,” Chaunta said.

Having a new heart didn’t change much about Jasmine’s demeanor, because she’s been incredibly positive since her journey began.

Chaunta will enroll her in dance classes before she goes to try-outs for cheerleading. Jasmine is no stranger to dancing, because every day she was in the hospital she would host nurses and other staff for dance parties.