23-day-old California baby receives heart transplant

LOS ANGELES, CA -- A Huntington Beach baby was given a slim chance of survival when doctors noticed he had a life-threatening heart defect while he was still in his mother's womb.

Doctors said the right side of the baby boy's heart that provides blood to the lungs did not form.

Nicole Eggleton was only 22 weeks pregnant when doctors told her the heartbreaking news about her son Dravyn. She lived in fear during the rest of her pregnancy.

"I never bought him clothes. I never got anything. I was just scared," she said.

When baby Davyn was in utero, the hope was that doctors could surgically rearrange his circulatory system so he could survive. But shortly after his birth, doctors discovered instead of having two working coronary arteries, he only had one.

"Any surgery that potentially could have been done aside from transplant was exceedingly high-risk, so the decision was made that we would list for heart transplantation," Dr. Juan Alejos said.

The average wait for an infant heart is at least six months. But after just two days on the transplant list, a match was found for 23-day-old Dravyn.

"This one was special just because we knew that there was a risk that we might not ever get a donor," Ajelos said.

The donor heart was the size of a strawberry, so the surgery had to be precise.

"The challenge is that any portion or things that are rotated could cause kinking or narrowing," Dr. Brian Reemsten said.

Dravyn is Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA's second youngest heart transplant patient. The youngest was a 16-day-old infant in 1994.

Eggleston's thoughts turn to her son's donor's family. She understands their grief, and she said she is grateful, especially now that she has the chance to take home her son.

"He has more energy. I mean aside from his scar, he's perfect," she said.

The average life of a donor heart is about 10 to 15 years, but it could be longer since baby Dravyn received the transplant at such a young age. At that point, he can be eligible for another transplant.
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