The state’s youngest heart transplant patient and her family show why they are Mississippi Strong

Gabby Smith had heart transplant surgery at UMMC last March

Mississippi Strong

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - In the middle of dealing with the grief and loss of three family members in a fire, Cindy Thompson becomes the caregiver of her great niece who needed a heart transplant to survive.

Gabby Smith was a little over three months old when she had heart transplant surgery at UMMC in Jackson. (Source: Cindy Thompson)
Gabby Smith was a little over three months old when she had heart transplant surgery at UMMC in Jackson. (Source: Cindy Thompson)

It’s hard to believe, looking at her now, that this little girl was not given much of a chance. She and her family show why they are Mississippi Strong.

Cindy Thompson and her family had always been close. But last March, her niece, 34-year-old Latoyia Smith, her 36-year-old husband Carlos Smith, and their one-year-old daughter Ivory died in a house fire in Bassfield. Two of their daughters survived - an adult daughter who was spending the night with Thompson and Gabby who was a little over three-months-old and on life support at UMMC.

Thompson said, “She was born with the condition. You know, before, the doctor wanted her mom to abort her because they said that she wouldn’t make it.”

Gabby celebrated her first birthday December 26th. Her grandmother, Jeanette Smith, says she is a miracle. (Source: WLBT)
Gabby celebrated her first birthday December 26th. Her grandmother, Jeanette Smith, says she is a miracle. (Source: WLBT)

As they planned the funerals of Gabby's parents and sister, the grief just didn't seem to end.

Thompson said, “On top of all that, my uncle, he was 97, he had died and all of them were buried on the same day.” Thompson says no matter what she was told, Gabby’s mom never lost hope or faith.

According to Thompson, “She told the doctors that she had enough faith for him and her.”

Gabby's parents, Latoyia and Carlos Smith and their one year old daughter Ivory died in a house in Bassfield last March.
Gabby's parents, Latoyia and Carlos Smith and their one year old daughter Ivory died in a house in Bassfield last March.

At three-weeks-old, Gabby was taken to UMMC. The only option was a heart transplant.

Dr. Avichal Aggarwal, Gabby’s Cardiologist at UMMC, said, “She was born with a very sick heart and her heart was not strong enough to pump blood into her body and to her lungs.”

And so, last March, Gabby became the youngest heart transplant patient in Mississippi.

“We had to match the new heart for the size and age so the donor was about the same size, the same age,” said Dr. Aggarwal.

Ivory Smith was just one year old when she died in a house fire with her parents in March, 2018.
Ivory Smith was just one year old when she died in a house fire with her parents in March, 2018.

“It was two weeks after her mom, her dad and her sister died, they found the heart,” Thompson said.

Gabby is getting stronger every day. The only thing she has been told she can’t do:

"She won’t be able to play sports,” said Thompson. But he says that Gabby has always been a little fighter, and proves every day why she is Mississippi Strong.

Thompson says Gabby’s mom was told to abort the baby before she made it to UMMC and that she is forever grateful to the doctors and staff there, who, like Gabby’s mom, never gave up.

Gabby will soon have a swallow test, and, if all goes as planned, she will be taken off her feeding tube.

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