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Zionville’s Melia Haury is Thankful for A New Heart, A New Start

Recovering from a recent heart transplant and now back at home in Zionville with her family and pets, Melia Haury is thankful for her gift of life.

By Sherrie Norris

Holidays have always been special for the Haury family in Zionville, but this year as they prepare to observe Thanksgiving, they are especially grateful for the gift of life in the form of a new heart for 12-year-old Melia.

Having returned home recently from a lengthy hospital stay in a Charlotte hospital, as she not only awaited her new heart, but successfully came through the transplant, Melia is all smiles as she settles back in to her routine with her family and pets at her side.

“We are so happy to be back home,” said her mother, Karen Haury, who was with her daughter the entire time. “We are truly amazed at how God brought Melia through the transplant and recovery. Not that we didn’t think He would bring her through, we just didn’t realize how well and fast her recovery would be. God has performed a miracle.”

Melia’s family, which includes parents Myk and Karen, and older brothers, Cameron and Jake, are thankful, also, to share this miracle with everyone. They described the High Country community as “awesome,” especially in how its members have stood by them, prayed for them and supported them in a variety of ways.

New Heart, New Start

The Haurys said that it’s like Christmas came early for their family — two months early, to be exact. On October 25, after waiting in Levine Children’s Hospital for over nine weeks, Melia’s failing heart was removed and replaced with a donor heart. Her parents were told by the surgeon that the new heart started beating with no problem at all.  

“This good start set the pace for Melia’s recovery,” said Karen. “She amazed her doctors and nurses with her determination and strength.”

When Melia’s parents were able to see her after the transplant, they were surprised to find her already alert and trying to communicate.

“I was prepared for Melia to be sedated and out of it for a day or so,” said Karen. “When I walked into her room for the first time after the procedure and saw her eyes open, I couldn’t believe it!.”

Melia spent the next 12 days recovering in the hospital, before going home.

When asked about her recovery, Melia said “I knew that the sooner I got better, the sooner I could go home.”

From the beginning

Melia’s journey began at birth when she was born with half a heart that was also inverted “or basically, backward,” said her mother. By the time she was 3 years of age, Melia had undergone three open-heart surgeries, but until recently, the homeschooled student had enjoyed a relatively healthy life, overall.

She loved jumping on a trampoline and playing with her friends, and has always liked to do any type of arts and crafts, said her mother. “An avid reader, she flies through books on her Kindle.”

Through the years, Melia’s heart had begun to malfunction, and earlier this year, her doctors indicated it was time to pursue a transplant.

It was hard on the entire family to be separated while waiting, Karen admitted. “We are a close-knit family and enjoy our time together, but Melia’s dad and brothers visited as often as they could. Melia handled everything very well, and even while knowing the transplant was a big deal, she said she was not worried about it.”

At the same time, Karen added, “Our family had begun praying (early on) for the other family in this story — the family who, in their mourning, provided Melia with a second chance. We trusted God through this journey and have given him honor and praise every step of the way.”

During her 11-week hospitalization. Melia missed many things from home, especially her family and friends, her cats —and baking.

“Melia’s first full day home was her Dad’s birthday,” said Karen. “She was delighted to be able to bake him a cake.”

Melia has also been cooking heart-healthy meals for her family and is inspiring them to try new things.    

Melia’s actual return to Zionville was anything but ordinary, her family said, and all thanks to their home church at Pleasant Grove Baptist and Zionville Volunteer Fire Department.

“We drove her to the church under the guise of needing to drop off something,” Karen shared. “At first, Melia was confused when she saw lots of fire trucks with their lights on and many people lined up around the church.”

Once she realized that it was her homecoming celebration, she was amazed. Her family slowly circled the church twice to let Melia wave to her church family, who have been praying non-stop for her and her family.

Melia is recovering well at home, with “many checkups” required during the first year to closely monitor for rejection; her immune system “will always be suppressed,” her mother described, and in the first three months, will be almost be non-existent.

Thus, she and her family must take precautions to keep germs away. “A common cold could land Melia back in the hospital,” her mother said, but eventually — and they so look forward to the day — Melia will be able to go just about anywhere she wants to “as long as she is careful about germs.”

For now, Melia is thankful to be home in time for Thanksgiving and, her favorite holiday, Christmas, for which she is already busy decorating her family home.

In response to those who claim it is too early to be getting ready for Christmas, Melia says “Any time of the year is a good time to celebrate Jesus’ birthday!”

And this year, we just know that it’s going to be a celebration like never before.

The Haurys are grateful for all of the love, support, and prayers they have received from their community. Melia’s mom said, “I am amazed at the comfort and peace that God has given us since learning in July that our daughter would need a heart transplant. There is power in prayer.”

You may learn more about Melia’s journey through her caringbridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/meliahaury.