March 14, 2022 – A 10-year-old girl who had five heart surgeries – including a day after she was born – was recently discharged from a New York hospital after receiving a heart transplant.
Chi-Chi Soto underwent the transplant in early February, 10 days before her 10th birthday, at NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, Today reported. She was released on February 24.
“I look at her and I don’t believe her,” said her mother, Katherin Rivera.
Chi Chi (his nickname) was diagnosed in utero with Noonan syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause heart defects, Today said. She underwent her first open-heart surgery days after she was born in 2012.
She spent three months in neonatal intensive care at the hospital before returning home. Chi Chi underwent four more open-heart surgeries in nine years before being diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, Today said.
In 2021, after another cardiac episode, Chi Chi and her mother traveled to NYU Lagone and met Rocky Singh, MD, medical director of the hospital’s pediatric heart failure and transplant program.
“She just wasn’t doing well,” Singh told Today. “She really didn’t feel very active, had a lot of stomach issues, wasn’t eating well, had low energy.”
Chi Chi had a cardiac arrest at home in December 2021. Her mother performed CPR and the child’s implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) shocked her heart to a normal rhythm.
“We were able to stabilize her with medication to support heart function, but by then it was obvious she was very ill and the only way she could live a long and healthy life was with a heart transplant.” , Singh told Today. .
Chi Chi went to the congenital cardiovascular unit at the hospital and on January 4 was placed on the waiting list for a heart. On January 31 – much earlier than expected – a heart was made available.
“I was prepared to wait three or four months,” Rivera said.
As another doctor performed the transplant, Singh said it was gratifying to see Chi Chi recover.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years…and I’ve been involved in over 150 heart transplants for children, and it never gets old,” Singh told Today. “She’s a patient who, to be honest, is lucky to be alive…when you look at her life before the transplant, especially last year (when) she spent more days in the hospital than ‘At home, it’s so rewarding to see how you can take kids who are very complex, high risk in a sense, and give them a completely different life.”