ARIZONA BABY BORN PREMATURE GETS HEART TRANSPLANT

PHOENIX (AP) -- Caylyn Otto bought a
bracelet for her unborn son, but not for his
baptism.
"I pictured it being on an urn or being
buried with him," Otto said. "I never
thought he'd get to wear it."
But now instead of planning his funeral,
the Mesa, Arizona dental assistant can
start planning her son's future. Born
nearly seven weeks early, Oliver became
one of the youngest heart transplant
recipients at Phoenix Children's Hospital
last month. He will need to be hospitalized
a few more weeks. But doctors say Oliver,
who was due Feb. 20, has been doing
remarkably well post-transplant.
"He immediately looked like a new baby,"
said father Chris Crawford, a pizza
delivery driver.
Otto said doctors noticed about 20 weeks
into her pregnancy that Oliver's heart was
significantly enlarged. At an appointment
a month later, the heart had only gotten
bigger. The couple, who have a 20-month-
old son, was then told to be prepared for
their baby possibly being still-born or to
consult with hospice caregivers.
Oliver was born Jan. 5 with a heart the size
of a 5-year-old child's with a large left
ventricle, Otto said. Dr. John Nigro, the
pediatric cardio surgeon who performed
the transplant, said the heart was affecting
the infant's lung and kidney development.
Ideally, an infant needs to reach a
gestational age of 36 weeks before
undergoing a heart transplant, according
to Nigro. But Oliver was put on the
transplant list.
To everyone's surprise, a donor heart
became available a few days later. Though
Oliver was not yet at the ideal age, the
surgical team decided to have him go
through the 10-hour procedure.
"If you get the perfect donor, you may
never get that donor again," said Dr.
Daniel Velez, who was in charge of
procuring the heart and making sure it met
all the requirements needed for Oliver.
Velez said the hospital conducts about one
heart transplant a month. But the last time
the procedure was performed on someone
as young as Oliver was about a year ago.
Nigro said everyone has been pleasantly
surprised at how Oliver, who now weighs 7
pounds, is coping.
"He's a real fighter. There's no question
about that," Nigro said.
Oliver will have to be on
immunosuppressant drugs and be
constantly monitored for the rest of his
life. But there's no reason not to expect
that he can't go on to live a normal life like
going to school and playing sports,
Crawford said. He said now they can joke
that the size of their son's heart was an
indicator of who he is as a person.
"That's been the joke: He had too much
love. He had to give it away," Crawford
said.