EAST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A Long Beach baby who was born with a deadly heart condition has received the gift of life.
Last week, KCAL9’s Kristine Lazar told the story of Brooklyn Ledesma, who was entering her eighth month on the heart transplant list after she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy.
A machine, called the Berlin Heart, was keeping her alive.
On Monday, the day Brooklyn turned 10 months old, her mother, Miriam, got a call that a heart was available.
“She was awake while she was going into the OR, so when we had to say, ‘Be strong, Brooklyn, you can do it,’ she looked at me like she knew what I was saying. Kinda giving me this look like, ‘Yeah, I got this, mama,’” said Miriam.
Five hours later, Brooklyn had a new, healthy heart.
Although the organ didn’t match Brooklyn’s blood type, for the first time ever, doctors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles were still able to do the transplant.
“We actually removed all of her blood at the beginning of the transplant and replaced it all with compatible blood that wouldn’t react with her or her new graft,” said Dr. Jondavid Menteer, a pediatric transplant cardiologist.
Though Brooklyn will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life, if all goes well, she could have the same heart for 25 years.
“The vast majority of the kids that get transplants like this are going to be active, they’re going to go to school, they’re going to play soccer, or baseball, or basketball, or ballet, or whatever they want to do,” said Menteer.
Brooklyn’s mom now holds vigil by her bed, reading words of encouragement off a Facebook page dedicated to her child.
Her baby’s donor is never far from her mind.
“I know I could never repay them for the life they gave my child. I (am) really truly thankful they were able to give my baby her life back,” she said.
Miriam said she can’t wait until Brooklyn can leave her hospital room.
“I want to see that reaction on her face when she goes outside and sees the sun,” she said. “Just her…feeling the grass on her feet, you know? Seeing a dog or…especially her going home to her sister.”