Ocala native Lizeth Chavez-Mendez, 31, always knew she would need a heart transplant. She was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome and had three lifesaving surgeries during her childhood.
In the fall of 2018, Chavez-Mendez became very sick. She finally needed a heart transplant, and in October 2019, she came to live at UF Health while awaiting her procedure. Throughout her stay, she received care from F. Jay Fricker, M.D., eminent scholar and professor of medicine at the UF College of Medicine, Juan Aranda, M.D., FACC, professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at the UF College of Medicine and Juan Vilaro, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the division of cardiovascular medicine at the UF College of Medicine.
Chavez-Mendez received a new heart in July 2020, but shortly afterward, she became septic. Her liver had failed, but she was able to have it transplanted at UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital in time.
Now, nearly two years later as a double transplant survivor, Chavez-Mendez continues to be managed for organ rejection, but she is enjoying her life, is engaged to be married and is excited about her future.