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Needed heart comes quick
Woman, 22, gets organ transplant
transplant 1 jd
Kelly Jones - photo by File photo
A young Forsyth County woman received a donor heart for a transplant just 12 days after being put on the list.

Despite a few minor setbacks during the surgery, doctors said Kelly Jones likely will be able to leave the hospital later this week, said her mother, Suzanne Jones.

The 22-year-old got the phone call about 9:30 p.m. May 15 after leaving a movie with a friend.

“She was very emotional. She cried,” her mom said. “Then she called everyone she knew.”

Jones arrived at St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta an hour later, carrying her left ventricular assist device with her for what would be the last time.

The battery-powered device, which she named “George,” was implanted by surgery to keep the blood in her heart flowing while she awaited a transplant.

In August, Jones discovered through an echocardiogram that her heart’s left ventricle didn’t form correctly at birth.

The condition, called non-compaction cardiomyopathy, is a congenital defect most commonly known for causing young athletes to collapse from overexertion due to a weak heart.

Her age, common blood type and lack of other health conditions made her a prime candidate to receive a heart. She just didn’t expect the call to come so soon.

“We had very much resigned ourselves to having to wait a long time,” Suzanne Jones said. “It’s truly amazing how fast things have happened.”

While Jones told her family she feels “amazing,” her father Bobby Jones said, her parents agreed their fortune was “bittersweet.”

For their daughter to receive this life-saving heart, another young person somewhere lost his or her life.

“My child would not be where she is today if it were not for the generosity of the donor and the donor’s parents,” her dad wrote in an e-mail. “I believe there is a special place in heaven for donors and donor families.”

Jones will need to take immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of her life. But assuming her body doesn’t reject the transplant, she will be able to move on with her life as planned, her mother said.

She plans to return this fall to North Georgia College & State University, where she will work toward a criminal justice degree.