One Heart Defect, Many Lives

Cora Guerin


Pediatr Nurs. 2022;48(6):265-266, 295. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Hello my name is Cora Guerin, and I am 17 years old. I was born with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition where the left ventricle of the heart is too small to function correctly (or in my case, non-existent).

I have always known about my diagnosis; my mom was 20 weeks pregnant with me when she and my dad were told.

When my parents went to my 20-week ultrasound, they found out they were having a daughter. Shortly after, they also discovered something was wrong with my heart. The doctor admitted she didn't know what it was; she referred my parents to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and said I would have a long road ahead.

My parents decided to name me Cora. My mom liked it because it was short for corazón, the Spanish word for heart, and my dad liked it because it was the name of a strong female character in his favorite movie, "The Last of the Mohicans."

Fortunately, I received a heart transplant in November 2016, when I was 11. This transplant improved the quality and quantity of my life (it is hard to admit, but I'm sure I wouldn't be here today without it).

Growing up with a heart defect wasn't easy. There were many activities I could not participate in that most kids my age could, or I could not participate as well as they could. For example, a lot of my friends were on the swim team. I was terrified of going into the water unless it was very warm; otherwise, I would come out cold. I also had to be careful in extremely hot or cold temperatures.