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At 6 months, Hope Sansbury has a new heart for Valentine's Day

One of Children's youngest transplant recipients
Posted at 8:55 PM, Feb 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 20:55:02-05

CINCINNATI – Hope Sansbury’s first name says it all.

The 6-month-old is the embodiment of hope. And her new heart makes her a perfect symbol for Valentine’s Day and any day.

A child to represent and bring awareness to Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month.

Hope is one of Cincinnati Children's Hospital's youngest heart transplant recipients.

When we first met baby Hope back in October, her mom told us she planned to dress her as the Tin Man for Halloween because, just like the Wizard of Oz character, her daughter needed a heart.

Fast forward nearly three months. Hope is healthy and on the lifetime path of recovery her parents had hoped for.  

John and Tess Sansbury will always remember Nov. 13. That's when they learned their baby girl was getting a new heart.  

"I shot up out of my chair and couldn't believe it and immediately had to sit back down because I was in shock," John Sansbury said.

 "It's exciting on this side, to be a part of such a good success story,” said Tess Sansbury. “It was very scary on the other side before we knew how the surgery was going to go."

It typically takes seven to 10 days before a heart transplant recipient can go home. But that wasn't the case for Hope.

"We learned early on that we're all on her schedule," said Tess.

Due to a pattern of irregular heartbeats, Hope had to stay in the hospital for seven weeks. And for her parents, that was a shocker.  

"It felt like we stole something,” said John. “It was kind of surreal. It had been so long."

They quickly became germophobes due to Hope's suppressed immune system.

Hope is now faced with a lifetime of recovery, but her parents say they'd never trade the journey thanks to their daughter's namesake.

"There's hope and there's an amazing medical teams that will help you through this and there's a community of parents who are ready to support you on this journey,” said Tess.

Hope and her dad will take part in the Heart Hero Fashion Show from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Newport Landing.  The fashion show will include other children like Hope who have congenital heart disease. Money raised will benefit medical research and efforts to raise awareness.