Children's Hospital First Heart Transplant: Patient was 2 Weeks - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; |

Children's Hospital First Heart Transplant: Patient was 2 Weeks Old

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Zach Revense

OMAHA (KPTM) – Children's Hospital & Medical Center doctors say a baby girl who had a heart transplant at two weeks old, is doing well.

Lainey Wilkinson was born with two fatal heart conditions.

"We recognized the chance that this infant could [die] immediately after birth [because] of the severity of the heart defects," said Dr. James Hammel, the surgeon who placed Lainey's new heart.

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome and Ebstein's malformation aren't uncommon ailments.  But together they are.

"I don't find any previous reports of this combination," said Hammel, "in the same heart."

The left side of her old heart was underdeveloped  and the right side; a valve wouldn't close properly.

Jeff and Jessica Wilkinson found out at five months that their daughter would face complications at birth.

"We didn't know what was going to happen next or what they were going to diagnose her with next.  And everything kept coming and coming," Jessica said. "You've got to take it lightly."

Pediatric cardiology isn't new at Children's, but this is the first time the hospital has ever performed a heart transplant.

"I know that when I stop the heart for surgery, which I do almost every day," said Hammel.  "I know that it's supposed to start beating again.  But I get a little secret pleasure every time it does."

This group of doctors expects to be part of Lainey's life.

"We will hopefully be able to repay that trust over the years by taking great care of Lainey."

There are 302 children, ages 0-17, on the waiting list for a heart transplant nationwide.  Last year 307 pediatric heart transplants were performed. 

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