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February 6, 2003


Emory and Children's Heart Transplant Recipients Celebrate Life at 15th Annual Heart To Heart Event, Sunday, Feb. 9

ATLANTA -- Kenishia Woods of Decatur is an active 22 year old. But she remembers how different her life was as a child when a congenital heart ailment prevented her from playing with friends. "I was constantly tired. And I stayed inside all summer long. I couldn't take the heat," she recalls. But in 1991, her health and her life changed dramatically when she received a heart transplant.

Richard Patterson, 28, has a similar story. The Duluth resident also was born with a severe heart problem that held him back from normal childhood activities. "My play was limited to about half an hour at most on a good day," he says. "I didn't have enough energy to do the normal things other kids did." Today, thanks to the heart transplant he received at age 13, he has the energy to participate in a host of sports, from jet skiing to ice skating.

Andy Kridle, 21, who lives in Douglasville, recalls how he longed to play outside and ride bikes with other children, but that was impossible because of his malformed heart. His life was transformed from one of weakness to one of health, however, when he received a new heart at age 12.

Their odyssey from failing hearts to new hearts -- and new health has taken Kenishia, Richard and Andy from Children's HealthCare of Atlanta, where they received their transplants as children, to the Emory Heart Center, where they are now followed as active, healthy adults. All three have something else in common: this Sunday they are joining more than a hundred other men, women and children who have received heart transplants -- or are awaiting new hearts -- along with friends and family members for the 15th annual Heart to Heart Celebration.

The party, which will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Stone Mountain Park, will feature activities for children, feature a cooking demonstration of heart healthy foods and remarks by David Vega, MD, Director of the Heart and Lung Transplant Program at Emory University Hospital (EUH) and Kirk Kanter, MD, Director of the Heart and Lung Transplant Program at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

The event is sponsored by EUH, the leading heart transplant medical center in Georgia where more than 400 patients have received new hearts, and by Children's, the highest volume pediatric heart transplant center in the region, where more than 145 transplants have occurred. For eleven years, The Emory Heart Center has been consistently ranked as one of the top ten cardiology centers in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Sibley Heart Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta was recently named as one of the top five pediatric cardiac programs in the U.S. by Child Magazine.

"Since the first heart transplant in Georgia was performed at Emory in 1985, we've seen remarkable advances in the field, including use of the left ventricular assist device as a bridge to transplantation. Heart transplants dramatically improve the lives of many people who are in need. In fact, a number of our patients have gone on to pursue sports, playing in the national Transplant Games - and one is a professional golfer," says Andrew Smith, MD, Medical Director of Emory's Center for Heart Failure Therapy.

According to Kanter, the Heart to Heart Celebration has become a tradition for both Children's and Emory transplant patients. "Patients and their families travel from all over the region to attend this annual event. It's an informal yet enriching way for them to meet new faces and visit with old ones, all of whom have found new health and hope through a heart transplant," he said.

About Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta enhances the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education. With 430 licensed beds in two hospitals and more than 15,500 annual inpatient visits, Children's is one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the country. In 2001, Children's earned a score of 95 from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Children's is recognized for excellence in cardiology, cancer treatment, transplant services and many other pediatric specialties. As a nonprofit organization, Children's benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community and state, enabling us to enhance services and programs for children and their families. To learn more about Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, visit the Web site at or call

About Emory Healthcare
Emory Hospitals include Emory University Hospital, a 587-bed hospital located on the Emory University campus in northeast Atlanta, Emory Crawford Long Hospital, a 553-bed, community-based hospital in midtown and Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital, a 100-bed hospital located on the Emory campus. Emory Hospitals are components of Emory Healthcare, the most comprehensive health care system in Atlanta. Other components of Emory Healthcare are: The Emory Clinic, the Emory Children's Center, the jointly owned Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, LLC, a limited liability company created in collaboration with HCA Healthcare.Visit the Emory HealthCare web site at

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