At first, Maddie Price thought it was the flu.
Her chest tightened and her stomach ached after attending a baseball game with her family. The 15 year old chalked up her ailments to too many hot dogs.
But a few days later, as she was leaving a coffee shop, Price felt dangerously faint. She was rushed to the hospital close to her hometown in Palm Harbor, Florida, a bustling beach community near Tampa.
That’s where doctors gave Price the news: she needed a new heart.
Price was born with a congenital heart defect, a critical health condition that has resulted in more than 100 surgeries (including two heart transplants), countless doctor visits and upwards of 30 different pills a day.
Price had experienced chest pain before, but this felt different.
When doctors told Price her heart was failing, she was confused. “I was like, ‘No, you guys just need to rerun it. I have the flu. I know what it is, I’ve had it before,’ she tells PEOPLE. Heart failure can deceptively start out with flu-like symptoms: fatigue, nausea, back pain. “The doctors said I get similar symptoms a lot worse than most people, and my heart was just not pumping blood as much as it …read more