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11-year-old Orlando girl searching for new heart gets released from hospital after treatment

KTVZ - NewsChannel 21

By Christina Watkins

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    ORLANDO, Florida (WESH) — Dashawna Bennett, an 11-year-old girl from Orlando in search of a new heart, is officially out of the hospital.

We’ve been following her journey for the last several months since she moved to a new city for special treatment.

WESH 2 had a chance to visit Gainesville to meet the brave little girl.

Bennett was in her element running around again at the park and playing in the jungle gym.

We first met the honor roll student from Orlando back in January.

She was spending her 11th birthday in the hospital at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Doctors placed Bennett on the heart transplant list in November after she went into heart failure.

Now, months later, there are no more tubes and no more machines.

“Dashawna, did doctors say you still need a new heart?” WESH 2 asked.

“Um, they said not at this moment. They said by now, they’re not going to accept a heart for me because I’m doing better,” Bennett said.

Bennett says none of this would’ve been possible without her family, all the doctors, the nurses, and the love from the New Image Youth Center, an organization in her neighborhood in Parramore creating a positive environment for kids.

“We’re a family. We’ve said that for almost 19 years now and I think the family role just jumped right into place,” Shanta Barton-Stubbs of New Image Center said.

So many amazing superheroes came together to make it possible for Bennett that she is where she’s at now.

“How do you stay so brave?” WESH 2 asked Bennett.

“I just don’t worry about the problems that I have. I just stay focused on spending time with my family,” Bennett said.

“It’s tenacity. She’s loved, she’s the example. More than anything, she’s a superhero,” Barton-Stubbs said.

And though she can’t do everything she used to do, she’s just happy to be alive and wants to inspire others to keep pushing.

“Talk to someone you really trust and keep praying then you will have some good news,” Bennett said.

Bennett is still on the transplant list, but with monthly visits to the doctor, she hopes to be taken off the list for good.

She and her family will officially move back home to Orlando later this summer just in time to start the sixth grade.

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