As one infant dies, another gets a new chance at life 12-day-old baby with a malfunctioning heart gets a new one in a Chicago hospital.

December 16, 1991|By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Theresa Kyles received the call at home: There might be a heart available for her 12-day-old baby, Quinn.

The 8-pound, 9-ounce boy lay in Children's Memorial Hospital, waiting for a heart to replace his malfunctioning one. The left side of his heart was not pumping blood as it should.

The call to Kyles meant that another Chicago family, whose identity is being kept confidential, had lost a child with a healthy heart.

Twelve hours later, that young heart, of the right blood type and size and just minutes away from the hospital where baby Quinn lay, was pumping inside him.

"But for the graciousness of someone who was courageous enough to donate their child's heart, we would still be waiting," Kyles said.

And while Quinn did not become one of the 20 percent of children who die waiting for a heart donor, two other children and their families continue to wait at Children's Memorial.

A donor match can take four days or six weeks, and the average is about 3 1/2 weeks, said Dr. Constantine Mavroudis, the director of the hospital's pediatric heart transplantation program. In the last three years, 13 babies have had heart transplants at the hospital, and eight are living, Mavroudis said.

In an effort to increase the number of organ donors in the state, the Illinois secretary of state's office in Chicago will be hosting a number of celebrities this week who will sign as witnesses if drivers fill out the anatomical gift form on the back of their driver's licenses.

After a long night, Theresa and Dwain Kyles had "mixed emotions" about the transplant. Two months ago, they launched a fund-raising and awareness-raising blitz, which included a sold-out Stevie Wonder benefit concert, to provide for yesterday's two-hour operation.

"I'm thankful our baby does have a heart," Theresa Kyles said. "I'm prayerful for the family who did make a donation, and I'm anxious for the families who continue to wait."

In serious but stable condition, Quinn could be home in three to six weeks.

"It's the best birthday I've ever had," said Theresa Kyles, who turned 37 yesterday.

Facing medication and clinical costs of up to $2,500 a month, the Kyleses have fund-raisers planned in Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

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