Pascagoula teenager celebrates successful heart transplant recovery

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 7:32 AM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - A Pascagoula teenager is celebrating a huge milestone. She has taken on a bigger challenge than most people at any age could imagine, and she has the heart to show for it.

On Thursday, 16-year old Julissa Dottery celebrated a well-earned moment of happiness following a fight for her life. Julissa can now call herself a graduate of Singing River’s Cardio Rehab program. Last year when she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and on the road to heart failure, she showed strength.

“I knew I had to be strong not only for myself, but for my entire family,” said Julissa.

Julissa needed a heart transplant.

“I honestly thought I was going to lose my daughter,” said her mother Christy Dottery.

Julissa Dottery, a 16-year-old heart transplant recipient, graduated from our Cardiac Rehab program today! Julissa...

Posted by Singing River Health System on Thursday, September 30, 2021

In February, Dottery took her daughter on one of many trips to University Medical Center in Jackson. While Julissa was undergoing another procedure, her transplant status was accelerated.

“She was successfully transplanted on Valentine’s Day,” said Dottery.

When the transplant was finished, the work was just beginning. For the last seven months, Julissa has gone through extensive workouts multiple times a week at one of Singing River Health System’s two Cardiac Rehabilitation clinics.

“I told her she was a warrior. She blew my mind. She was encouraging me and keeping me strong,” said Dottery. “I was supposed to be the one that’s the support system, and she’s continuing to amaze me every day.”

At just 16, Julissa Dottery has already endured a battle for her life that many don't...
At just 16, Julissa Dottery has already endured a battle for her life that many don't experience until much older, if ever at all. She is now looking forward to doing typical teenager things after her successful heart transplant.(WLOX)

The work isn’t done as Julissa will need to stay active and stick to a diet, something she’s happy to do now that’s she’s feeling better than she ever has.

“I’m able to do things with my family that I wasn’t able to do before when I was in heart failure, like playing basketball with my brother and playing Xbox with him,” said Julissa.

Being surrounded by so many who have cared for her, Julissa wants to pay it forward and spend her life caring for others.

“I realized going through what I went through, I feel like being a nurse is my calling,” said Julissa.

Along with being a nurse, Julissa also wants to work with her family in a salon. She’s been doing home school but with her improving health, she plans to enroll at Pascagoula High School.

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