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'Her Spirit Has Come Back': 3-Year-Old Celebrating 1st Valentine's Day After Receiving New Heart

ACTON (CBSLA) — Emme Walterscheid, an Acton 3-year-old is full of energy, but just a few months ago, she was fighting for her life.

Emme Walterscheid
Emme Walterschied, an Acton 3-year-old is getting ready to celebrate her first Valentine's Day and birthday with her new heart. (Family photo)

"She's always been kind of needing naps," Britney Walterscheid said of her daughter. "She would just zonk out for a day, either just throwing up or being nauseous or sleeping all day."

Doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles said her condition was serious and rare.

"Emme was diagnosed with a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and it is an extremely rare condition, especially in kids," Dr. Jennifer Su, of CHLA, said. "Less than 1 in 200,000 children have this condition."

Britney and her husband, Chris Walterscheid, got the news that their toddler would need a heart transplant — in the middle of a pandemic.

"It was a lot of shock," Chris said. "Partly disbelief that this could be happening to us."

Emme spent the next six months in the hospital waiting for her heart.

"On Friday evenings, I would get off of work, pack a bag and I would come down," Chris said. "And I would stay the weekends and let Britney spend time with Lucy, and I would get to spend some time with Emme."

The hardest part for Emme was being separated from her sister, Lucy.

But in November, they family got the news that they had been waiting for — they were getting a heart.

"There's no doubt in my mind that having that heart transplant really saved her life," Su said.

But the joy of knowing their daughter was getting a new heart also came with the grief of knowing that another child lost theirs. It's something Britney said they were going to honor at their home.

"We have plans for their playhouse and their own little garden and a stepping stone that has that on there, the date and just, thank you," she said.

As for Emme, she's doing great and is planning a special 4th birthday party on Feb. 15 — the first with her new heart.

"Her spirit has come back a lot more," Chris said.

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