Chicago girl, 11, suddenly falls ill and may need heart transplant

A neighborhood on the North Side is rallying around a young girl who suddenly fell ill and may need a heart transplant.

“I like to do art, and I like to make slime and I like to bake,” said Saniyah Childs.

Five weeks ago, 11-year-old Saniyah could do all those things. She is a CPS student who loves being outside with friends and listening to gospel music.

In early October, Saniyah’s mom found her doubled over in bed having trouble breathing.

“I thought she had a cold and then I watched her throughout the night, just laid with her and then I just felt her heart beating so hard. It was working really, really hard,” said mother Ciel Fox.

After running tests at Lurie Children’s Hospital, doctors diagnosed Saniyah with Cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle where it's not able to contract enough to pump blood throughout the body. Saniyah's since undergone two major heart surgeries, including one to install a device who she named "Jeffery."

“Jeffery is my VAD, my heartbeat,” Saniyah said.

“The nurses were telling me, ‘oh you know she gave him a name.’ His name's Jeffery. I don't know where it came from,” Ciel said.

“He helps my heart pump blood,” Saniyah added.


Soon, doctors will turn “Jeffery” down to see if her heart can beat on its own. If not, Saniyah may need a new one.

“I've been hearing 'transplant' ever since I walked into the door. It's always been a possibility,” Ciel said.

“I really want to go back home and I really want to see my friends because I really miss them,” Saniyah said.

The family expects to find out in the next two or three weeks whether Saniyah will need the heart transplant. In the meantime, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Saniyah and the family with medical expenses and prescriptions.