Medical Breakthrough: Piggyback Heart Transplant - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/27/05

Medical Breakthrough: Piggyback Heart Transplant

We have all heard about heart transplants. The kind where a single donor heart replaces the one that's damaged, but did you know that more and more today, some patients are learning that two hearts may be better than one.

Camila Gonzales is the youngest patient ever to undergo what's called a piggyback transplant. The two year old has a heart condition called cardiomyopathy. Where the heart muscle is weak, causing blood pressure to rise in the lungs. In Camila's case, it was five-times higher than normal. So, her piggy back transplant, means that surgeon's linked her existing heart to a new donor heart.

"These are her two hearts beating inside her chest as imaged by an MRI scanner. The right side, of her own heart, is pumping blood to the lungs. The left side, the donor heart, is pumping blood to the body," says Daniel Bernstein M.D. a transplant surgeon.

Camila is only the ninth child in the United States to receive a second heart. In adults, the procedure is also rare. For example, out of 12-hundred adult heart transplants done at Stanford Hospital in California, only one involved the piggyback procedure. Camila is doing well and is back at home. Doctors say right now, the donor heart is doing most of the work, but eventually, both hearts will share the load.

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