UHealth surgeons at Holtz Children's Hospital can proudly call their eight-organ transplant surgery a success. The surgeons spoke out Friday with the Texas family who said organ donation is the only way their son and daughter are able to fight a rare and potentially deadly prenatal condition.
"Seeing our son eating and having formula like a regular baby was one of the happiest days of our lives," said Julissa Cerda, mother.
The words written on their shirts -- Love, Hope, Donate Life -- come with difficult firsthand experiences.
"As a mom, it was very hard to hear that my next newborn was going to have the same syndrome that my six-year-old now had," Cerda expressed.
It's been a long journey to health for the family of four from Texas. Liam Garza and Delilah Valdez are not only siblings, but also multivisceral transplant patients diagnosed with Berdon syndrome. The condition affects only one in one-million children and is usually fatal within the first year of a child's life.
"Their nerves to their entire GI tract is not functional. So they cannot eat because basically whatever they eat, they will throw up," explained Dr. Jennifer Garcia, MD, UHealth pediatric gastroenterologist.
Having gone through a seven-organ transplant surgery at the Holtz Children's Hospital five years ago with Delilah, Cerda and her husband returned to Jackson Memorial Hospital to provide one-year-old Liam with the best care possible.
"He received the liver, the stomach, the pancreas, the small bowel, the large bowel, he received two kidneys and part of the bladder," said Dr. Rodrigo Vianna, MD, UHealth liver and gastrointestinal transplant surgeon.
On Friday, the family prepared for their trip home, but their stay in South Florida will have a lasting impact.
"Before her coming we actually didn't know about the actual gene defect so one of our geneticists using Delilah's DNA was able to identify the gene that causes this syndrome," Dr. Garcia explained.
Two extraordinary stories from one strong family.
"To have two successful children in the same family sitting here, I think it's almost a miracle," Dr. Vianna said.