2 Heart Transplants Can't Keep Joelle Down
Jul 23, 2017 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Joelle Earle is 29 years old and on his third heart, but he hasn't let life's unexpected turns slow him down.
Even though Joelle was born with an incomplete rib cage and a hole in his heart, no one suspected that the asthma-like symptoms he battled throughout childhood were a result of the birth defect.
A few months after he was born, doctors told his family that the ribcage closed and the cavity in his heart had healed.
That was that and besides, everything was fine as long as he used his inhaler.
Joelle saw a cardiologist and learned that his "episodes" were actually heart attacks, and he’d had 8 by this point.
As a teenager, Joelle, an avid athlete and sprinter, started getting light-headed and passing out when training. At 14, he had one of these episodes when no one was nearby to help, resulting in third-degree burns from sun exposure. A week later, he saw a cardiologist and learned that his "episodes" were actually heart attacks, and he'd had 8 by this point.
After months of tests and multiple open-heart surgeries, Joelle was diagnosed with heart failure and put on a transplant list.
Joelle was 16 when he got his first heart transplant.
Joelle was 16 when he got his first heart transplant. His medical team told him that his new heart would last 10-13 years.
After recovering from surgery, he went back to living a normal life as a teenager. He attended music festivals and traveled the world—Hawaii, Japan, and everywhere in between. He spent a lot of his time running, hiking, skateboarding, and playing sports like he used to.
When he turned 19, he moved to Los Angeles to work for his father's catering business and restaurant, Earle's on Crenshaw.
In 2016, Joelle started once again having issues with shortness of breath. His donor heart had lasted almost 14 years and it was time for a new one.
After 5 months on the waiting list, he got the call that a donor heart was available. He had his second heart transplant on March 29, 2017 at Cedars-Sinai.
The surgery went quickly and smoothly. Nancy was shocked to get a call saying her son was asking for her just 5 hours after surgery began. Joelle and Nancy credit the advancement of medicine and Joelle's care team, including surgeon Dr. Joshua Chung of the Smidt Heart Institute, for his rapid recovery.
Joelle is a grateful patient and supporter of the Campaign for Cedars-Sinai. Learn more about the Campaign.
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