MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s was a moment 19-year-old Macey Brietenback has been waiting for her whole life.
Ringing the transplant bell.
The extremely grateful Baltimore teen left Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial full of life after receiving a critical organ transplant that saved her.
“It was so amazing. I never thought I would get a transplant, let alone get one, and be going home doing well and able to go home fast. It’s unreal” said Macey Brietenback.
But for Brietenback and her family, the road getting here was a nightmare.
“In the past, before my transplant, I was a very depressed, sad, miserable person to be around. To be honest, I was stuck in bed, I couldn’t go see my friends, couldn’t go to school” she said.
Brietenback was born with a rare incurable disease called visceral myopathy, a smooth muscle disorder that affects many of her organs including her gastrointestinal tract.
Most of her stomach has been removed, she has undergone more than 100 surgeries, and has never been able to eat solid food. But somehow Brietenback found the strength to pull through and even competed in the Miss Maryland teen pageant in 2017. There, her smile and beauty lit up the stage but off stage she was living her life in agony.
“I was in so much pain, so miserable. I was planning if I got another infection, which happened every month, I was planning on just staying home and letting the infection take over so I could be free” she said.
Just when it seemed all hope was gone Brietenback’s mother Mickey contacted the Miami Transplant Institute at Jackson Memorial Hospital where they were able to perform a miracle.
The lifesaving surgery took three days to complete. Now nearly a month later, a healthy and happy Brietenback and her parents are ready to conquer a whole new world.
“We’re taking a 19-year-old out into the world for the first time. It’s so cool, I can’t wait” said Mickey Brietenback.
“I want to travel the world, I want to go everywhere, go to different places to eat. I was never able to eat before so I have 19 years to make up for” said the teen.
The first thing that she had was a latte her surgeon brought her and she loved it. Her mom said she just loves to sit and watch her daughter eat, she said it’s like having a newborn all over again.