United States

Baby Born With Intestinal Defect Survives 5-Organ Transplant

One child dies, another gains a second chance at life.

A 5-year-old twin girl is healthy today only because she has five new organs. Alessandra, her twin and older sister are inseparable and full of life. But, that wasn’t the case a few days after the twins were born.

Carina Lamberti and her husband thought their daughters were healthy, until Alessandra – at seven days old – refused to eat.

“That was the worst day of our lives. That’s when everything started and we had no idea what was coming towards us,” Carina remembered.

She rushed to the hospital with the baby even though their pediatrician told them to not be alarmed. What they later discovered, let Carina and her husband shocked.

“Basically, our baby, my baby was dying in my arms and I didn’t know,” said Carina.

When doctors checked Alessandra, they found she was suffering from a birth defect in her intestines.

“When they opened her abdomen, they realized the entire small bowel and large bowel were dead so they had to take out her bowel,” explained Dr. Jennifer Garcia with Jackson Memorial’s Miami Transplant Institute.

After the couple learned about their daughter’s condition, they were terrified.

“My husband is there, we’re just watching, standing there watching this happening in front of us like a horror movie,” recalled Carina.

The condition, referred to as Volvulus, prevents the body from getting nutrition to survive. It happens in one out of 500 live births.

After Alessandra’s intestines were immediately removed, doctors told her parents they needed to consider a transplant. After researching options, Carina and her husband turned to the Miami Transplant Institute and waited a few months before getting a match.

Jackson MemorialHospital has the second largest transplant program in the U.S. They perform around 700 transplants a year.

“It was a mix of emotions,” Carina said. “We’re giving our baby to these doctors, thinking ‘God guide their hands. Or take her. We believe in you’.”

After a six-hour operation, Alessandra came out with 5 new organs: stomach, small bowel, large bowel, pancreas and liver. And that wasn’t the only amazing part of the surgery.

“Thankfully, she was one of the first kids we did without an ostomy,” explained Dr. Garcia.

Years later, Alessandra is blossoming at home with her twin and older sister and getting ready for kindergarten.

“[I] guarantee you cannot tell the difference between her and her twin sister Victoria,” said Dr. Garcia.

Carina and her husband are forever thankful to the family that lost a life so that her daughter could keep hers.

“So, if you’re out there and you want to reach out, we’re here. And, I just want you to know that your baby made a difference. Your baby’s alive in our baby,” Carina said.

She and her husband are registered organ donors and they encourage others to do the same.

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