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Northland teen is first heart transplant recipient at Children’s Mercy

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 15-year-old girl from Kansas City North is the first heart transplant recipient at Children's Mercy Hospital. Hannah Mountz got her new heart two weeks ago. She's home from the hospital, but returned Friday to share her story.

Hannah's lucky day was Friday, the 13th.

"It was very exciting... I was so ready," said Hannah.

She was ready to get a new heart. Last fall, her badly diseased heart left the Staley High School band member so weak that she couldn't play and march at the same time. Hannah eventually had a defibrillator implanted because her heart wasn't keeping its beat.

"She had a significant rhythm event and actually went down and her device went off five times, all appropriately," said Dr. Aliessa Barnes, a cardiologist at Children's Mercy.

On February 1st, Hannah thought she was getting a new heart. But after she got to the operating room, the surgeon discovered a problem with the donor organ.

"There was a big letdown, but we realized quickly that wasn't the right one. That wasn't it," said Tim Mountz, Hannah's father.

The right heart arrived on February 13th, five weeks after Hannah went on the waiting list. Her dad was in Texas.

"I had to shelve the tears, be the strong one 'cause Tim wasn't there," said Renita Mountz, Hannah's mother.

But so many other loved ones were there as Hannah became the first heart transplant recipient at Children's Mercy. The program was started so area families can stay close to home.

"So they don't have to go to other cities in the middle of this incredibly stressful time period, not have their support systems," said Dr. Barnes.

Hannah went home on Tuesday. She says she wasn't really aware before of the value of organ donation.

"You find it -- you find out how important it really is," she said.

Hannah's eager to go back to school.

"I know that's not something you usually hear a 15-year-old girl say. But I have been out for too long and I am ready to see my friends and get back," she said.

But her doctor says it will be about three months before she can go back because her immune system needs to build back up.

Children's Mercy has one other patient on the waiting list for a heart, and expects to add two more in the next week.