Dateline | June 05, 2013
>> love you, lindsey lou!
>> bye, lindsey .
>> lindsey lou bingham has been wheeled into an operating room at lucile packard children's hospital, where doctors hope to replace her failing heart. until the surgeons have examined the donor heart themselves, there's a chance they will have to stop the surgery. surely, enough stress for lindsey 's parents, stacy and jason , who have endured nearly eight long months of hope and dread waiting for a heart for lindsey .
>> my emotions are shot. i have no more tears left.
>> but they have been given more. after saying good-bye to lindsey at the door of the o.r., they're going to check on 13-year-old sierra , who's in the cardiovascular intensive care unit following a biopsy on her heart.
>> she was really scared.
>> sierra is worried about lindsey , and jason is now worried about sierra .
>> just because you get the transplant doesn't mean it's over. it's just beginning.
>> it's well after midnight now, valentine's day. as nurses watch over sierra and the doctors prepare lindsey for the transplant, jason and stacy are asked to pack up lindsey 's room to make it available for another sick child.
>> every time we look around we can see the love of other people, like the big heart that the whole school signed and sent to her.
>> as they pack up the room they have virtually lived in for almost eight months, the donor heart is being removed in a hospital in nevada. transplant surgeon olaf rhine reinharts is watching the clock from palo alto .
>> from the time the heart is taken outprofused in blood again in lindsey has to be as short as possible.
>> are we talking what, five hours?
>> a maximum of six hours, but i'd rather keep it a lot shorter than that.
>> the team has gone to the hospital where the donor is to retrieve the heart.
>> the heart looks really good, so lindsey 's chest is open right now, so, she's a go.
>> 4:50 a.m ., doctors put lindsey on a heart lung machine and begin to remove her diseased heart. it is badly scarred, twice the size it should be. as they're finishing, a call to the operating room .
>> they're going to be here in 15 minutes .
>> 6:00 a.m . jason and stacy aren't prepared for emotions they feel as they see the donor heart arrive.
>> the reality of it really sunk in when we saw that cooler that says " human heart " on it. i could see the nurse head down the hallway to my little princess , who's opened up and ready and waiting for it.
>> the passing of life from one child to another. the heart looks perfect. implantation begins. meticulously, surgeons stitch together five separate connections. they begin with the new heart outside lindsey 's body, then finish up once it's slipped inside the chest. the heart has not beaten since it was taken from the donor nearly four hours earlier. the next step is crucial. the team will use a defibrillator to spark lindsey 's new heart back to life.
>> immediately, it begins to pump and soon finds its rhythm.
>> so, it took a couple hours longer than i expected, but everything went very, very smoothly.
>> after nearly eight months of waiting and hoping, lindsey has her new heart. but the binghams have two daughters in the cardiovascular icu now, and as they get the good news about lindsey , their blood pressure spikes over 13-year-old sierra .
>> so, i'd like to kind of regroup with the whole team and talk over things and see if we can come up with a more effective, long-term strategy for her.
>> i guess i just need to hear you say there are options.
>> there are options to look into, but i've always been honest with you.
>> this is not the easiest thing to treat and there have been times in the past where we haven't been able to get it under control.
>> sierra 's biopsy results show antibodies are attacking her heart and already have caused some damage. doctors tell the binghams, they would try an attempt to remove the harmf fuful antibodies from her blood. it sometimes works, sometimes doesn't.
>> there is a chance that to survive, sierra will need a second heart transplant .
>> the reality of it is it's never going to be the same. there's always going to be something. and now that always something is going to be times two. it was really hard. you just felt like your emotions are on a roller coaster and you want to be happy for the one, but you're feeling so bad and want to cry with the other one.
>> and of course, there is little gage, who has the same heart disease and already a pacemaker at age 4. jason and stacy do their own form of triage, focusing on the sickest child. for now, that is lindsey .
>> lindsey , we're all here now. megan's here. so is gage!
>> the days after a heart transplant are critical. lindsey suffers a seizure, is put back on a ventilator after a bad reaction to medication, but the doctors diagnose the problem quickly, and soon, she's up and walking without an artificial heart pump for the first time in eight months.
>> all right, ready?
>> and finally, whether or not to get rid of that scraggly beard jason started growing the day lindsey went on the transplant list eight months earlier.
>> do it!
>> lindsey , lindsey , lindsey !
>> one down! three to go!
>> two weeks after getting her new heart, lindsey is ready to leave the hospital.
>> are you ready to go?
>> oh, yeah!
>> she's out of here.
>> she isn't going far, just down the street to ronald mcdonald house until both lindsey and sierra are cleared for the trip they so desperately want, the one back home. until then, all they can do is wait.
>> we don't know what's coming.
>> no, but what's coming won't be long.
>> there's no way to know, is it going to be good or is it going to be bad? so, each time, you're just a little bit on pins and needles , like oh, let us get