Baylor Health Care System Foundation

Patient Stories


Cardiovascular Surgery

Tina Danze

Just weeks after the happiest day of her life, 19-year-old Ashley Reynolds was close to death. She had given birth to her son Raedyn and was already imagining what it would be like to watch him grow up. But three weeks after Raedyn’s birth, Ashley’s immune system attacked her heart.

Doctors at Baylor did what they had to do to keep her alive. They performed open-heart surgery and implanted an LVAD, a device that helps the left side of her heart pump blood. Then they put her on the list to get a heart transplant. Her cardiologist, Dr. Johannes Kuiper, clearly knew the stakes. Without this advanced technology, he says she wouldn’t be alive.

After the LVAD was in Ashley’s chest a year, something extraordinary happened. Doctors noticed that her heart was repairing itself. The medical team started running tests to see how dependent her heart was on the device. Reducing the speed and flow of the pump incrementally, they reached the point where Ashley’s heart was pumping on its own.

That prompted another unexpected event: doctors decided to perform a second surgery to remove the LVAD. Now, Dr. Kuiper expects Ashley to live longer than she would with either the device or a heart transplant. As for Ashley, she’s already started making a lifetime of memories with her son.


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One donor. Eight lives.