Suffolk girl receives heart transplant in time for Christmas, inspires community

Jasmine Chalmers (right) and her mom, Shaunta.

SUFFOLK (WAVY) — A Suffolk teenager had one wish this Christmas, and after years on the transplant waiting list, her wish for a new heart came true.

Jasmine Chalmers, 14, has been sick most of her life. Her first heart surgery was at 3 months old after she was born with a heart defect.

Jasmine has been on a waiting list since she was 11 years old.  On December 12, just in time for Christmas, Jasmine got her new heart. It was a true gift for the family, whose last several years had been split between the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

The time apart from each other and the dwindling paid leave Chaunta had left was starting to wear the family down. And, that’s when the community stepped in. That includes the Sheriff of Suffolk, E.C. Harris.

“This is a special family, you can’t even imagine having a child, I can’t, that has to have a heart, you are so focused on that, other things become meaningless,” said Harris.

The sheriff got wind of her story and decided with the community to help raise money and Christmas gifts for the family.

Meanwhile, Jasmine underwent surgery and the heart transplant was a success. Someone else’s heart now beating inside of her.

Shaunta Chalmers is Jasmine’s mother and she says she is grateful for her daughter’s heart.  “We’ve explained this is a gift from God and we have to take extra extra care of it because not everyone is granted this opportunity.”

The opportunity to smile, to laugh, with her mom.

And while Jasmine may be little, her dreams are big. She wants to be a nurse one day.

“I want to be a nurse because if it wasn’t for them. I wouldn’t be here right now,” said Jasmine.

She says the nurses inspire her, but it seems she’s the inspiration.

“If anyone can get inspiration from anything that has gone on with us or with her then I think anything that she has gone through was worth it,” said Shaunta.

According to Donate Life Virginia, right now, 3,200 Virginians are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.  One person can save 8 lives and heal countless others. It takes just a few minutes to register. You can sign up at, or you can do it the next time you are at the DMV.