High tech tool keeps babies alive while awaiting heart transplant

Berlin Heart pump keeps babies alert and healthy

By Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

MIAMI - A new, high tech tool that's now available in South Florida is helping keep babies alive and healthy while they wait for a heart transplant. Thanks to modern medicine, little ones can practically hold their hearts in their hands.

Nine-month-old Tatiana Israel may look like a healthy little girl, but she has been a very sick baby.

When she was just two months old, her parents brought her to the emergency room with what they thought was a bad case of the flu.

"We got here and they said, 'We have to operate now. We can think about it later, but have to do it or there's no more,'" said her father, Jacob Israel.

The diagnosis: cardiomyopathy. Meaning Tatiana's heart was dangerously enlarged and blood was not being pumped the way it should be.

"The heart muscle itself just isn't functioning properly, so her heart is not contracting. It is not able to pump blood out effectively or efficiently," said Dr. Maryanne Chrisant.

But Tatiana is alive and thriving thanks to the Berlin Heart, a small, external heart pump attached to her own heart by tiny tubes.

She is one of the youngest patients ever to use the Berlin Heart, it's lifesaving pumps doing some of the work her heart is too sick to do.

Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital is the only South Florida Hospital using the Berlin Heart, a revolutionary device that allows little ones like Tatiana to stay healthy, alert and mobile while awaiting a transplant.

This means she can develop relatively normally with regards to speech development, feeding, walking, and doing all the things a normal child would do at her age.

Tatiana has been waiting six months for a heart. In the meantime, the Berlin Heart is keeping her alive.

Her family says they just want her home so she can be with her brothers and sisters.

Local 10 will follow up this story when Tatiana receives her heart transplant. The technology that's keeping her alive isn't cheap. So big hearts can help little hearts by participating or donating to the 5th Annual Tour de Broward to benefit the Cardiac Center at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. The event is on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Miramar Regional Park.

Local 10's Kristi Krueger will be riding in the 50K cycling challenge and Julie Durda will be participating in the 5K run. It's a great day, lots of fun and all for a great cause.

For more information, visit tourdebroward.com.

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