NORWALK, Iowa — After receiving the gift of life just before Christmas, an Iowa teen is at home and recovering.
Eighteen-year-old Brooklyn Soroka underwent heart transplant surgery on Christmas Eve after nearly a year on the transplant list.
After 13 days in the hospital, Brooklyn is back home and was welcomed back with a special surprise. The Norwalk Fire Department held a parade in her honor Tuesday afternoon as Brooklyn made her way home from the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
Brooklyn’s surgery came five years after her life was turned upside down when she fainted in gym class.
“Due to that instance, she visited a pediatrician who referred us to the cardiologist. That cardiologist determined during our visit that her heart contracts but does not relax during each beat,” said Brooklyn’s mother, Dana Soroka.
Doctors diagnosed Brooklyn with mixed cardiomyopathies — a rare and life-threatening combination of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is best known for being the cause of sudden death cases in basketball players on the court.
The discovery forced Brooklyn to change her entire life. She could no longer participate in dance, gymnastics or even take a trip without worrying that her heart would give out.
In February, Brooklyn was put on the organ transplant list, hoping to receive a new heart. On December 23, the Sorokas got the call they had been waiting for. They were notified that a donor heart was available, and Brooklyn went into surgery at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital on Christmas Eve.
When asked what she’s most looking forward to doing following the transplant, Brooklyn said “Literally anything. I can work out now, I haven’t been able to do that since sixth grade. I can go on walks. I can go to Florida, like I like to, and I can go and do things.”
Brooklyn said the first thing her family plans to do now that she’s home is open Christmas gifts.
The Soroka family says they are forever grateful to the donor’s family.