Woman Who Underwent Rare Heart Surgery Awaits Transplant

Michelle Johnson Is One Of 30 In US Successfully Discharged With Portable Artificial Heart

A local woman who underwent a rare and risky heart surgery faces a new challenge as she awaits a full heart transplant.

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Michelle Johnson is recovering at her mother's Lemon Grove home. It has been almost five months since she had surgery to implant a temporary artificial heart.

Johnson, 38, is currently recovering at her mom's house in Lemon Grove, but it will still be sometime before she can declare herself healthy.

It will still be some time before she can declare herself health. She showed 10News the full bag of medications she still must take.

"Most of them are to regulate the blood pressure," said Johnson, who is a mother of three children.

Still, she couldn't be more thankful that she gets to spend time with her kids.

"I have a better outlook on wanting to take care of myself and eat the proper foods and just wanting to be around," Johnson said.

Johnson, diagnosed with congestive heart failure, was the first patient ever at Cedar Sinai's Medical Center in Los Angeles to receive an artificial heart.

There is no heart in her body. Instead, she is kept alive with the equipment that she carries around in a backpack she must tow with her at all times. Since being implanted with SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart, she tries her best to live a normal life.

"I'm able to get out and go shopping, as normal," Johnson said. "I'm just not able to be in the store that long because the battery."

Johnson's family is always close by with an extra pump in case the first one fails.

She is ready for her heart transplant, but first she is required to find a place to live near the Los Angeles hospital. That is a difficult task due to skyrocketing medical bills. She is selling $3 bracelets through the Help Hope Live organization to help her raise funds.

With all that she has been through, she urges others to listen to her important message: "You might want to be checked out for heart conditions, or if your family history ... even though you look good on the outside, it could be worse on the inside."

For more information on how to help Johnson, click here.

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