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A Heart for 2-Year-Old Jocelyn

A Heart for 2-Year-Old Jocelyn
By Jennifer LB Leese

On September 14, 2009, 21-month-old Jocelyn Rose Dunahugh grew very ill.
"She came down with a fever," said Jocelyn's father, Travis Dunahugh.
"At first they mistook the enlargement of her heart to being fluid in her lungs, so they automatically thought she had pneumonia. They kept her and treated her for that, giving her all the antibiotics and medicine for pneumonia, but nothing was working," said Kristin Johnson, Jocelyn's mother. "Her breathing was very labored and she was in pain every time she would breath."
During an x-ray, doctors found that Jocelyn's little heart was enlarged. An echocardiogram was then performed with a doctor from Washington Children's Hospital on a conference video call. He confirmed her enlarged heart and was diagnosed with Myocarditis. It was late decided that a virus (Human Parvo Virus) had settled in her heart, causing her to enlarge. On September 17, 2009 arrangements were made to get little Jocelyn to Washington Children's Hospital in D.C. Around 3am the next morning, Jocelyn had to be placed on a respirator due to the difficulty of her breathing and with the hopes of taking stress off her heart. Later that afternoon, she was taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab to get biopsy samples from her heart. Upon removing the catheter after the procedure Jocelyn went into cardiac arrest.
Doctors performed CPR for seven minutes before her heart started beating again.
"Those seven minutes were the hardest I've ever been through," said Jocelyn's mother, Kristin Johnson. From there she was immediately placed on life support for her heart and lungs. "It was hard," Kristin said.
Kristin grew up in Maugansville and lives in Hagerstown. She took time off from her job to be with Jocelyn and for the next year while she recovers. Travis Dunahugh also lives in Hagerstown.
Between hospitals, Jocelyn's heart seemed to be beating normally again and was sent home. "I took her to my dads," said Travis, "and she was playing. I fed her lunch, and five minutes later she started throwing up profusely. But she didn't act sick; she'd throw up and start playing again. And they said that if we see any signs of that to call, so of course I called and they told us to go straight to DC."
Nurses wondered why the doctors were admitting her. "It was hard because she acted like herself," said Travis.
"Yeah, but she was perfectly normal on the outside, just not on the inside," said Kristin.
Later, doctors told Kristin and Travis that they were unable to reduce the size of her heart and that she will have to undergo a heart transplant.
For the next week her family continued to wait. An induced coma gave Jocelyn's little heart time to heal. During this time it was also found she had fluid around her heart and lungs, tubes had to be inserted to remove the fluid.
Jocelyn was transferred to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in November of 2009 where she spent the next 3 1/2 months of her life awaiting a heart donor.
The waiting game was played for quite sometime then when on March 5, 2010, a heart came for Jocelyn, and on March 6th, she received her new heart.
"She is amazing," said Kathy Repp, Jocelyn's grandmother. "She has much more energy than before her heart transplant. It is wonderful to see her getting around without restraints."
Weekly visits are a norm now for Jocelyn and her parents, as the doctors keep an eye out for rejection. She will take anti-rejection medications and will need to make regular cardiology follow-ups for the rest of her life. Currently Jocelyn is on eleven different medications, taking them 5 to 6 times a day.
The Maugansville Ruritan Club donated over $5,000 to help with Jocelyn's medical expenses. If you want to help Jocelyn's family with some of the expenses, visit any Susquehanna Bank and make a donation to the Jocelyn R. Dunahugh Fund.
If you would like to learn more about Jocelyn's medical condition and to read a weekly journal written by her grandmother, Kathy Repp, visit

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