LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Long Beach baby with a deadly heart condition is being kept alive with a revolutionary machine known as the Berlin Heart.
Miriam Ledesma said her 9-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, has spent her entire life in a hospital room.
“I see a lot of people with their babies or, you know, living their lives as it’s supposed to be, and the fact that my daughter has to stay here, and I have to go home. I mean, it hurts my heart,” she said.
When Ledesma was eight months pregnant, she learned that there was something wrong with her child’s heart.
After Brooklyn’s birth, she was rushed from a hospital in Long Beach to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where doctors diagnosed her with a dilated cardiomyopathy.
“Which means the heart, not only does it not function normally, but it grows very large in size and becomes inefficient,” said cardiothoracic surgeon Cynthia Herrington.
At just two months old, the left side of Brooklyn’s heart was no longer working.
Her doctors turned to the Berlin Heart, a large machine developed in Germany that pumps blood through Brooklyn’s heart.
“The Berlin Heart essentially takes over the function of the heart and enables us to wait until an acceptable heart becomes available for her for her transplant,” said Herrington.
Children’s Hospital L.A. is the only pediatric hospital in Southern California using the device, which was only recently approved by the FDA for children in the United States.
In addition, Brooklyn is their youngest patient to ever be placed on it. She may also end up being the patient who has stayed on it the longest since she has been waiting for a transplant since she was two months old.
“You see how tiny Brooklyn is. So, the heart that I use to transplant for her is going to have to come from an individual that’s just as tiny as she is, and so we have to wait,” said Herrington.
“Every night, I go to sleep thinking, ‘I hope tonight is the night,’” said Ledesma.
Currently, Brooklyn is attached to three separate machines, including the Berlin Heart. It takes two nurses and her mom just to take her daily walk down the hallways of the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.
If Brooklyn gets her new heart, doctors said she will be able to live a normal life.
“I just can’t wait for her to get her heart, and for her to be able to explore out in the world and reach her milestones like a normal baby,” said Ledesma.
The mother said she’s splitting her time between caring for her sick baby and spending time with her other daughter, an active 8-year-old.
“And it breaks my heart that I have to bring her here every day, and she sees her sister this way,” she said.
Once Brooklyn has her transplant, there’s a good chance she won’t have to spend another night in a hospital for a long time, as most pediatric heart transplant patients don’t need another transplant for about 20 years.
“Her smile just makes me know that everything is going to be OK,” said Ledesma.