Josh's Story

Joshua John Hermsen was born on December 11th, 1995 to Michele and Matthew Hermsen. 

In Utero, as a 16-week-old fetus, Josh was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Block. The Mother of the baby, Michele Hermsen carried Anti La and Anti Ro Antibodies. These Antibodies attacked the conduction system of Joshua’s heart and inhibited the heart’s ability to pump. The final diagnosis was Cardiomyopathy. Josh’s heart was not strong enough to sustain life after leaving his mother’s womb. A baby’s heart normally beats 150 beats per minute. Joshua’s heart was beating 50 beats per minute. If Joshua survived the birth, the plan was to implant a pacemaker immediately and list Joshua for a heart transplant. 

Joshua was waiting for a heart at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven Connecticut. After a few months of waiting at Yale, doctors told Joshua’s parents that the outlook was grim. They could no longer sustain his life and it was recommended that they look elsewhere for a hospital that has more experience with end stage heart failure and transplantation.

In August 1996, Joshua Hermsen was transported to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. A heart was still unavailable and Joshua’s health had diminished considerably. Josh was kept in a medically induced coma so he would exert no energy. He body was edemnous and his lips were blue. If a heart did not arrive soon, Joshua would not survive.

On August 18, 1996, Joshua received the gift of a heart. He was brought into the operating room at midnight and came out of the operating room at 6:00am on August 19th. The procedure was incredibly risky because of Joshua’s critical condition. The donor heart came from the Midwest. Josh’s heart cavity was enlarged and was capable of housing a larger heart. The donor heart came from a 3-year-old boy. A team of trained doctors quickly and efficiently harvested the organ.

On October 22, 2002, at the age of 6,  Josh had a second heart transplant due to chronic rejection of the first transplanted heart.  He was the eleventh child in the world to have a second heart transplant.

Today, Josh is a Marist College Alumni with a degrees in Psychology and English.  His goal is to continue with his education and plans to pursue a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.  Joshua has two healthy younger sisters named Mia and Victoria.

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