A 19-month-old boy was able to leave Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Thursday after undergoing a heart transplant just three weeks ago.
Jayden Villano, who waited six months for a donor, was smiling and popping bubbles in the hospital lobby.
“It’s crazy to me that a child who is so sick, after the transplant, he is just brand new,” said mother Alexa Gutierrez. “He is doing everything a normal 19-month-old is doing.”
The toddler was first brought to the hospital after his mother noticed his lethargic activity. He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and severe heart failure, according to Dr. Maryanne Chrisant. The boy was quickly placed on a Berlin Heart, a device that sits outside of the body, until a donor was found.
The transplant procedure used a heart from a little girl who died, according to Dr. Frank Scholl.
“It’s always heartwrenching to see what our patients and our families go through,” Scholl said. “Thankfully we have the ability and technology available to get them through most things.”
Scholl also expressed his gratitude to organ donors and spoke about the importance of the donations.
Gutierrez is also very thankful. She said it was her duty as a mother to be by her son’s side.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions,” she said. “There have been great days and there have been bad days. I like to think of myself as his sidekick.”
Doctors said Villano is doing “beautifully.”
The hospital has performed six pediatric heart transplants since December 2010, Memorial Healthcare System said.
The three doctors on the team are Scholl, Chrisant and Gerad Lavandosky.