5-month-old girl recovering after receiving heart transplant during pandemic

Health

DENVER (NewsNation Now) — A 5-month-old baby is recovering after receiving a heart transplant during the coronavirus pandemic.

Not long after birth, Eila’s heart began to fail. Doctors say the pandemic posed an extra threat. But with the help of the medical team at Children’s Hospital Colorado, baby Eila has a new heart.

One week after major surgery, Eila opened her eyes and started to move again.  

Doctors say she was born with a rare heart condition that started in the womb.

“When we were 20 weeks, she was diagnosed with a hypoplastic right ventricle. The right side, the right ventricle of her heart just grew a little bit smaller,” said her mother Caiya Jackson. “Also that she had valve regurgitation, so a leak in her heart. It kind of pulls blood back so she was getting too much fluid.”

Not long after birth, doctors realized the problem was worse than expected.

“She was going — not the greatest at first. She was breathing really heavy and having issues breathing and just. You could tell she was very uncomfortable,” said her father Morgan Brown.

At just a few days old, she went for heart surgery. But when that didn’t work, the family packed up to move to Denver for treatment at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

They have started a GoFundMe page to pay for medical and relocation expenses. It’s estimated to cost close to $20,000 in total.

For two months she was in and out of the ICU. Then this December, they got a call that changed their lives.

“Out of nowhere, they gave us a call and told us she had a heart. And it was pretty quick, really faster than normal,” said dad Morgan Brown.

Cardiologists took out Eila’s heart and gave her a healthy one. A rare match for her small body.

Dr. Melanie Everitt leads the pediatric heart program for the hospital .

“A heart transplant is one of those life-changing procedures that is not very common in children. But surprisingly over 600 heart transplants are performed every year worldwide in the pediatric age group. And about 25% of those children are babies,” said Everitt.

Even more remarkable, the program is still fully operational during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been really hard during the pandemic. Transplant programs struggled to be able to continue to provide heart transplant care and other organ transplant care for their patients while the hospitals and ICU’s were filling up with COVID patients. And we were fortunate to be able to be a program that remained open thought the pandemic,” said Everitt.

Now, this baby is on her way to a miraculous recovery. From one family’s loss, Eila has gained a new lease on life.

“Beautiful thing, thankful,” said father Morgan Brown.

Legally they are not allowed to know who they are but they are thankful.

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