DALLAS - The family of a baby born with a life-threatening heart problem has new hope thanks to a new heart.
Dallas Independent School District Trustee Miguel Solis' daughter turned 3-months-old Tuesday but she’s already overcome a lifetime of medical challenges.
Little Olivia was born with a heart defect. On on her sixth day of life when doctors tried to correct her aortic valve, her heart went into shock. After 63 minutes of CPR, she was put on life support. That's when the family went to Children's Hospital.
After open heart surgery, seizures and strokes, doctors were certain Olivia needed a new heart. In fact, she needed it so bad that she was at the top of the federal donor list until recently.
“The transplant nurse came in and asked me if I was prepared for some of the greatest news that I would receive. And I said, ‘Well, what could that be? Are we getting a new bed in the ICU?’ And she said, ‘No, your daughter is going to get a heart today,’” Solis said.
Preparations for the heart transplant begin around 6 p.m. Monday and Olivia’s new heart began beating in her chest early around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Surgeons removed her old heart, put her on a heart and lung bypass machine, and then placed the donated organ.
"What an amazing birthday present to have a new shot at life with a new heart,” Solis said.
Both parents are dedicated to improving the lives of children. Solis is on the school board and his wife Jacqueline is a pediatrician. On Monday, they were just mom and dad.
"She wakes up smiling, she's cooing, doing things developmentally she shouldn't because of her situation. She's fighting, she's really strong,” said Jacqueline Nortnan.
Olivia's mom and dad said over the past three months they've lived their darkest and brightest days. They are sharing their story to raise awareness for other parents facing the same challenge.
"The only thing that has gotten us through this has been our faith and North Texas people we have known for years and some we never met have sent their love, thoughts and prayers to her and know the same is happening in preparation for this surgery,” Solis said.
The trustee shared a video clip of Olivia being wheeled back to her hospital room early Tuesday morning. He said she rocked it.
“The blood returns to the heart,” explained transplant cardiologist David Sutcliffe. “It's in a new place, but it knows how to do the same thing. It just starts beating spontaneously.”
Solis said Olivia’s future is still uncertain. It could be days before doctors know whether surgery was successful. But her future is certainly brighter now than it was before, he said.
He also asked for prayers for the family who lost their baby, adding now there’s an angel in heaven and who will remain with Olivia.