The young woman from Compton, Calif., has dealt with health issues her entire life and has faced death more than once. But now, with a new donated heart and kidney, transplanted at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, she has been given a second chance to live and is ready to take on the world.
Osborne was born with a fairly common genetic condition known as Noonan syndrome, which is often associated with heart and lung problems. In Osborne’s case, she developed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle, and pulmonary hypertension, which caused high blood pressure in her lungs. In 2009, her condition worsened and she was placed on the waiting list for a heart–lung transplant at a hospital in Northern California that was covered by her insurance.
While waiting, she suffered heart and lung failure and required a breathing tube. Then her kidneys failed and she needed dialysis. With so many medical complications, she was deemed an unacceptable candidate for transplantation surgery and was transferred back to UCLA to pursue end-of-life care.
Osborne spent the next six months in the intensive care unit at UCLA and slowly improved, ultimately learning to walk and function again. In March 2010, she was well enough to go home with the aid of several machines that helped her breathe and eat. Despite her chronic heart and kidney failure, her spirit endured and her health continued to improve with the love and support of family and friends.
Over the next two years, Osborne’s extremely complicated medical issues kept her from being considered for a transplant again. However, her lung doctor, David Ross, a professor of pulmonology and medical director of the UCLA Lung Transplant Program, and her cardiologist, Daniel Cruz, a clinical instructor of cardiology at UCLA, championed a new idea: If they used medications to treat Osborne’s pulmonary hypertension after a potential heart transplant, she would not require a lung transplant at the same time. In other words, the lung problems could be reversed with a healthy new heart and medications. Pursuing this strategy, they hoped, could get Osborne back on the transplant list for a heart, and possibly a kidney.
"Although it would be unchartered territory, after much intense discussion among the team and after explaining the high risks to Brandie and her family, it was decided to put her on the combined heart and kidney transplant list in June 2012," Ross said.