“They told us we had to extubate her, that there was too much pressure on her heart,” Tina recalls. Finally, Tina and Darren demanded that the breathing tubes be taken out. Within 10 minutes, Jenna was awake and talking.
She finished her recovery back at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. Six weeks later, at home again, Jenna collapsed, complaining of pain in her other leg. Another MRI brought terrible news: Jenna had another joint infection, a complication from her heart failing.
“There are a few complications we dread, and this was one of them,” says Dr. Bacha.
It was time for a heart transplant, the last-resort option, the one Tina had blocked out of her mind.
“Our world came crumbling down,” recalls Tina.
Jenna was listed as 1A, which is top priority for a heart transplant. Tina and Darren waited and kept watch over Jenna in the hospital while family and friends helped out with the Skeetes’ son and daughter, Malike, 19, and Kiara, 14, at home.
Finally, after three weeks of watching their daughter on life support, the Skeetes got some welcome news: A heart was available, and it was a perfect match.
“When I heard, I jumped up, started crying and hugged the doctor so hard I practically knocked her over,” Tina recalls.
From there, things moved quickly, with a surgical team from NewYork-Presbyterian flying to retrieve the new heart.
“Knowing Jenna since before she was born, I knew she was a fighter,” Dr. Levey says. “And while this next step was a big one, I knew she would do well.”