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Megan Edney, 14, awaiting heart transplant in Charlotte

Megan Edney Megan Edney

Megan Edney, the 14-year-old daughter of Henderson County Commission Chair Michael Edney, is critically ill and awaiting a heart transplant at a Charlotte pediatric hospital after a daylong surgery Wednesday.

“It’s been the roller coaster ride from hell,” Edney said Thursday afternoon by phone. “But right now we’re in a good place. It’s going to be a long process.”
A healthy teenager until a few months ago, Megan began complaining of constant stomach-aches, head-aches and other problems that physicians were unable to diagnose. A G.I. specialist in Greenville “never could come up with anything.” Last Wednesday, a scan at Pardee Hospital showed “way too much blood in her abdomen,” Edney said. “Before we left, they told us a CAT scan is showing evidence of heart failure.”
She was raced to Mission, where doctors confirmed her condition. “They say, ‘This is very serious. This is more than we can handle.’”
Torrential downpours made a transfer by MAMA impossible. Instead, an ambulance sped her to Levine Children’s Hospital on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. In the intensive care unit of one of the top pediatric heart facilities in the South, she is under very good care, Edney said.

By Friday night, the family heard from doctors the explanation for the severe illnesses Megan had been having. “An MRI showed she’d had a number of heart attacks,” he said. Her heart was functioning at only 14 percent of capacity. She was an immediate candidate for a Berlin ventricular assist device. Designed specifically for infants and children, the German-made machine continuously pumps blood until the patient can get a heart transplant.
“A transplant’s your only option,” Edney said. “She’s on the transplant list. They got all that done for us. We’ve been interviewed by 10 people for it.”
Megan will have to stay in the hospital on the Berlin device while waiting for a heart, a projected three to six months. “But because of her age and whatnot she is like the highest category” of recipient. “You go from stomach pain to losing your heart overnight is shocking.”
“Doctors have closed Megan's chest!” Edney wrote on his Facebook page at 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon. “Things still going great!! Very Grateful and Thankful!!!!”
Closing her chest was a welcome relief after Wednesday night when Megan was bleeding more than expected, causing surgeons to go back in to stop the bleeding. “Doctor just came in and said this was a bump in the road, not a mountain,” Edney said on Facebook about 10 Wednesday night. He expects doctors will allow Megan to wake up Friday and "see how that goes."
“They’ve let us know what’s going on,” he said of the medical staff. “They’re not sugarcoating anything. It is what it is. As they’ve learned more, they’ve told us more.”
Because the Berlin heart machine is portable, Megan when she’s stronger should be able to walk the hospital corridors some and maybe go outside. Given a heart transplant recovery time, she’s not expected to return to school any earlier than next January. She’s in seventh grade at Mountain Community School.
An attorney in his fourth term on the Board of Commissioners, Edney, 57, has faced loss all his life. He lost his 3-year-old brother when he was just 4. Another brother, Jimmy, a detective with the Henderson County sheriff’s office, died of cancer in 2009 at age 49. More recently, in December 2012, his niece, Heather Stepp, and her six-month-old baby Eli, were severely injured in a bad crash on Kanuga Road. “My sister’s been through leukemia and had a bone marrow transplant,” Edney said.
Asked how he is holding up through all these challenges, Edney said he and his wife, Lisa, had just been talking to a minister about that.
“In a way, all those things prepared me for what I’m doing now,” he said. “It all teaches you you’re not in control. God’s in control.”
He expressed gratitude for all the help Megan and the family is getting at Levine. Two nurses attend Megan 24 hours a day. “In the middle of the night there’s always two doctors on the floor,” he said. “We’ve got tons of support from family and friends and strangers. Anything I need they’re taking care of. We’ve been blessed.”
Megan’s mom is fighting for Megan every step of the way. “She’s tough. She’s doing what she has to do for her baby.”
Megan becoming stable was the best news the family had received since they left Pardee on the way to Mission eight days ago.
“Today’s Lisa’s birthday,” Edney said. “She’s probably gotten the best present she could have got — that her daughter’s doing good.”
The dad also praised Megan’s big brother Mitch, a 17-year-old junior at Hendersonville High School. “He’s been a trouper,” he said.
What can friends and family back home do?
“We want to be on every prayer list everywhere,” Edney said. “God’s healing power is what we want and need.”