TERRE HAUTE —
After nearly five months, 8-year-old Katelyn Newell finally returned home Thursday evening — with a new heart.
She underwent tests in the morning, and by early afternoon, one of her doctor’s at Riley Hospital for Children told Katelyn and her mom, Robin Newell, the good news.
They were already packed, Newell said Thursday morning, as they awaited the doctor’s word.
She said her daughter “is doing amazing” and is taking her medications just as she’s supposed to. Katelyn is currently on 10 medications, including anti-rejection drugs and steroids.
Newell and Katelyn have taken some long walks — from the Ronald McDonald House to the Indianapolis Zoo entrance and back, which is about a mile, Newell said. That’s the furthest Katelyn’s been able to walk in about 1 1/2 years.
“We walked to a gas station one day and got her a slushy,” Newell said. Her daughter also has gained several pounds.
For now, Katelyn must wear a mask and remain pretty much in isolation — away from large crowds.
The transplant occurred April 24 at Riley Hospital, one month ago. Katelyn and her mom had been at the Ronald McDonald House since May 4 — although both did get to spend Mother’s Day at their Terre Haute home.
“I’m so proud of her. Her attitude has totally changed,” Newell said. Prior to the transplant, Katelyn was “really fussy a lot and whining all the time. She had a lot of anger,” her mom said. She refused to take her medication for awhile.
But as Newell looks back at pictures taken before the transplant, she recognizes how sick her daughter was. “It’s floored me,” she said. She knew it, but because she was with Katelyn all the time, she didn’t see it as clearly. “Now I can see it,” Newell said.
Katelyn was excited to go home and re-unite with her brothers and her dad, Scott Moody. “We’re so ready to go home,” Newell said.
The Deming Elementary student will remain in isolation for three months, which is the end of July. If she continues to progress, they are hopeful she will be able to attend the Justin Bieber concert that month.
Katelyn and her mom finally got home about 5:30 p.m., and Katelyn “can’t sit still,” Newell said. “She’s thrilled with her room,” which has been re-decorated in her favorite colors, with purple walls and black accents.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.