For Lillianna Cox of Strongsville, Ohio, living with hypoplastic left heart syndrome has been an emotional roller coaster. Since she was one-week-old, this brave little fighter, whose left-side of her heart was underdeveloped, had to endure many corrective surgeries.

Defying odds

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome occurs in 4-16 out of every 10,000 live births, and accounts for about 8 percent of congenital heart disease in babies.

By the time she was seven-years-old, Lilli had already faced four open-heart surgeries and five heart catheterizations. In late 2015, her health continued to decline. When she was admitted to our hospital, my colleagues and I had to make some tough decisions.

We asked ourselves what else we could do. What other treatments could we give her? Was there another operation we could perform? The only solution to saving her life was a heart transplant.

QUICK BEAT: After nine heart procedures, Lilli didn't hve to wait long for a transplant, receiving a perfect match only four days after being added to the donor list.

Lucky listing

Lilli was immediately added to the transplant list. After just four days of being on the waiting list, she received miraculous news that would change her life: a perfect match had been found. On November 22, 2015, Lilli celebrated what her family now acknowledges as her new birth date—the day she received her new heart.

“Lilli is a happy-go-lucky little girl. She’s a fighter who loves life and never gives up,” says Tiffany Cox, Lilli’s grandmother. “We're truly grateful.”

This courageous girl is truly inspirational. Throughout her entire journey, she kept a smile on her face and a positive attitude. I couldn’t be happier to see her doing so well.