The new heart began beating on its own for the first time over the weekend, just a week after it was implanted in Natalie Davis' tiny body.
"I think she did it just for Mother's Day," an elated Jane Davis told The Greenville News. "We could not ask for things to be better."
Diagnosed with a rare life-threatening condition in January that caused her to suffer heart failure, the 5-year-old Greenville girl was put on the transplant waiting list nearly three months ago. She received her new heart on May 3 at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Given a pacemaker at the time of the transplant because the new organ couldn't yet beat for her, her doctors are now talking about removing the device, Davis said.
"The heart is pumping on its own now. And she looks like a totally different kid," she said. "We're just so blessed."
Natalie's condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, left her listless and short of breath after the slightest exertion. Small, pale and fragile, she couldn't keep her food down as her heart continued to weaken.
After the transplant, there were a few tough days as Natalie began breathing on her own and was hurting from the incision, which runs the length of her chest.
But in the past few days, her color has been returning, she's had visits from therapy dog Lucky, and she's been walking, too.
"She can get off and on the bed by herself and she's doing some (physical therapy)," said Davis, who with husband, Dick, adopted Natalie and her 2-year-old sister, Kayla, last year.
"It's just amazing to me a week out," she said. "I've never seen anything like it in my life."
Another sign of Natalie's continued recovery is her desire for clean hair kept just so, Davis said.
But the plucky child still needs to recover her appetite, must take 10 medications every day — some that taste awful, her mother said — and is being watched closely for any signs that her body may be rejecting the new heart.
The Davises, who have been staying at the local Ronald McDonald House, will spend the next six weeks in Charleston keeping vigil at Natalie's bedside as the medical team continues to care for her.
Still, things have been looking up enough so that Kayla could join them on Saturday.
"It was a good Mother's Day," Jane Davis said. "It's just like a miracle to me."