When Gianna Paniagua was just a baby, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — a heart defect that led her to severe heart failure. Gianna was 14 months old when she received her first heart transplant.
Gianna with her mother, Lourdes, at the hospital after her first transplant in October 1992.
Courtesy of Gianna Paniagua.
Even with a new heart, Gianna spent most of her life in and out of hospitals. Those experiences shaped her childhood, and she remembers being surrounded by doctors for most of her life.
Gianna as a child playing doctor with her dolls. Courtesy of Gianna Paniagua.
During these countless appointments and medical procedures, Gianna was able to lean on her mom, Lourdes Matamoros. Lourdes has been by Gianna’s side for decades — including when she received her second heart transplant in 2021.
Gianna (right) in the hospital with her mom after receiving her pacemaker in 2018. Courtesy of Lourdes Matamoros.
A year after receiving a new heart, Gianna came to StoryCorps to speak with her mom about her plans for the future.
Top Photo: Lourdes Matamoros and Gianna Paniagua at their StoryCorps interview in Nashville, Tennessee on March 17, 2022. Taken for StoryCorps.
Originally aired April 8, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.