Oct. 12, 2011 at 4:17 PM ET
Just five weeks after her heart transplant, Kylee Faith Jones is recovering exceptionally well.
It's especially remarkable considering Kylee is just five months old, born with a congenital heart defect that required a pacemaker when she was three days old, according to NBC's Miami affiliate, WTVJ.
She’s also the youngest transplant patient ever at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, in Hollywood, Fla. In fact, little Kylee is only the third case at the hospital, which started its pediatric heart transplant program in December 2010.
Over 2,000 patients received heart transplantations in 2010, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. About 88 percent of patients survive the first year, and about 72 percent survive for five years, says the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Infant transplantation, though, is much riskier. A recent study from Children’s Hospital Boston showed that 1 in 9 babies who undergo transplantation die before leaving the hospital.
But without a transplant, baby Kylee faced difficult odds. An ultrasound detected a heart defect when mother Trace Jones was 16 weeks pregnant.
“Her heart was flipped. It was on the right side of her body and it was a mirror image,” Jones told the station. “She had third degree heart block which meant the top of her heart and the bottom didn’t fire at the same times.”
Kylee did well on the pacemaker for three months, but then became very ill, and was unresponsive at the hospital's emergency room, . “When I picked her out of the baby seat, I realized her body was limp. It was a very scary feeling,” said John Jones, the baby's father.
Doctors resuscitated Kylee, who spent the next seven weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit waiting for a donor heart. Donor hearts are in short supply, with over 3,000 patients currently waiting, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
But Kylee got lucky, receiving a donor heart, and transplant surgery on August 31. She “required maximal medical support in order to sustain her until the time of transplant, “ Dr. Maryanne Chrisant, director of pediatric cardiac transplants at the hospital told WTVJ.
An ultrasound of Kylee's own malfunctioning heart showed it was contracting very poorly and the rhythm was abnormal. A recent ultrasound done after the transplant is a different story. “It’s pumping beautifully, it’s ejecting blood perfectly, it’s really doing great,” said Chrisant, monitoring Kylee’s progress.
That's the best possible news for the Jones, who feel forever indebted to the donor family.
“It was sort of a mixed feeling in the sense that you feel guilty for another family that lost their child in order to give our child life,“ said Kylee's father, John. “We would love to meet them and just thank them,” added a grateful Trace. And now, all family members have registered to be organ donors.
Interested in becoming an organ donor? Visit organdonor.gov to get more information.