It's been a tough road and an emotional journey for Frances Rodriguez. Her 11-month-old daughter, Isabelle was born with a rare congenital heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which basically means she was born with only half a heart.
After some complications with her first surgery at a different hospital, Isabelle's family turned to the team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute, where she received treatment and a life-saving heart transplant.
"Baby Isabelle is a very special little girl," said Dr. Frank Scholl, Chief of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute. "Her surgeon called and said, listen, I'm in a tough situation, I have this amazing patient and amazing family and she's stuck. She's gonna die unless you guys can help her, and I just said, yes."
Isabelle's medical team says it wasn't easy at first.
"Not only did she need a new heart, but we had to reconstruct the place to put the heart because she only had half a heart," Dr. Scholl said. "A lot of care and a lot of time and a lot of hand ringing and a lot of late nights were spent by the team caring for her until we got her to the point where we found a heart for her."
“To see her now sitting up and blowing kisses at you and smiling -- she’s come so far," said Dr. Laura D'Adesse, Pediatric Cardiologist at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. "If there ever was a medical miracle, it’s this kid. She’s special. She’s a fighter."
After spending her whole young life in the hospital so far, baby Isabelle was finally able to go back home. She was discharged from the hospital on Monday, just in time for Thanksgiving.
The Puerto Rican family, who lives in Jacksonville, had been staying in South Florida during Isabelle's treatment and recovery. Her mom, dad and big brother Adrian were incredibly grateful and looking forward to watching Isabelle melt hearts with her adorable smile as she grows up.
"Isabelle is doing good. I want to thank God and the nurses and doctors and everybody," said Frances Rodriguez, Isabelle's mother.