Teyanna Ingram and daughter Tyra pose together outside of Duke University Hospital.
Tyra Ingram, 19, of Laurinburg, NC was born with more than one congenital heart defect and needed three major heart surgeries and a pacemaker before she was five years old. She underwent a heart transplant at Duke in 2021, but the family couldn’t relax just yet. Within weeks of Tyra’s transplant, her mother, Teyanna, received a kidney transplant at Duke. Now, months later, mom and daughter are feeling great, going on family vacations again, and looking forward to a healthy future.
A Journey Not for the Faint of Heart
Tyra was born with several heart defects, including congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (also called L-transposition of the great arteries, or L-TGA). This rare defect caused two of Tyra’s four heart chambers to be switched, one of which was too small to function properly. By the time she was in kindergarten, Tyra had undergone a series of complex heart surgeries at Duke University Hospital. She had a pulmonary artery band surgery at two months old, a bidirectional Glenn procedure at 14 months old, and a Fontan surgery with a pacemaker placement when she was four. As she grew, Tyra struggled to keep up with other kids.
“I was the worrywart,” Teyanna, now 41, said. “I'd see her trying to run, and I would tell her not to. I'd be like, ‘No, baby. You might need to sit down. You look tired.’"
Kidney Failure Complicates Things
In June 2019, Teyanna was diagnosed with kidney failure due to complications from diabetes. She started dialysis, which required four-hour treatments, three times a week. Within a few months, Teyanna’s doctors suggested she be evaluated for a kidney transplant. She was added to the national waitlist.
Two Organ Transplants Within One Month
Two years later, in February 2021, Tyra started having trouble breathing while she was a student at North Carolina Central University. “I called my grandma. They were like, 'let's call the doctor,'” Tyra said.
Michael Carboni, MD, Tyra’s Duke pediatric cardiologist since she was five years old, knew that she needed advanced therapy or a heart transplant. About two weeks after Tyra was put on the transplant waitlist, a heart became available.
“She had a really complicated surgery because of her complex congenital heart disease. But the transplant went really well, and she thrived afterward,” said Duke transplant cardiologist Adam DeVore, MD, MHS, who was part of her care team.
Just a few weeks later, Teyanna got the call that a kidney was available for her and she underwent the transplant. Six weeks later, her kidney transplant surgeon Kadiyala Ravindra, MBBS, was pleased with her progress. “She was really sick prior to her transplant,” he said. “It’s gratifying to see how well she’s done.”
Figuring Out What’s Next
Both Teyanna and Tyra are getting stronger every day. “I can walk a lot more without getting tired,” Tyra said.
“My experience was great. Some of my Duke nurses were the same ones who took care of Tyra, so they remembered me. They would ask how she was doing,” Teyanna said. “It felt like a second home.”
According to Dr. Carboni, Duke has the resources and collaborative expertise to help people like Tyra and Teyanna Ingram. “We can do the same for others like them,” he said.