Touching More Hearts: ACH Performs Back-to-Back Heart Transplants

The calls came in five minutes apart on a recent Monday. Within the next 24 hours, two little girls would have new hearts, thanks to the selfless decisions of families facing tragedies.

At 6 months old, Remington had been waiting for a new heart nearly her entire life. In the room, next door on the Arkansas Children's Hospital Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, Grace, 9, had been listed for a heart transplant just three days earlier. Both children were born with complex hearts that were close to giving out.

"We never know when those calls will come, but we certainly don't expect them back to back," said Elizabeth Frazier, MD, medical director of the ACH Heart Transplant Program. "It is a miracle for both families."

So within one day, Arkansas Children's Hospital's expert team and surgeons performed two complicated heart transplants.

"Our teams were tremendous," said James Traylor, RN, the OR coordinator for both surgeries. "They worked around the clock to relieve each other and make this happen."

[ACH Patient, Grace. One of two back-to-back heart transplant recipients.]Remington's and Grace's parents are grateful to the families who decided to donate their loved one's organs during the most difficult experience of their lives.

"I hurt for them, but I'm just so thankful," said Remington's mom, Victoria.

"We can never thank them enough," added Dilliu, Grace's mother. "Their children live on in ours."

Before her transplant, Grace had already undergone five surgeries at Arkansas Children's. Her family knew they wanted the ACH Heart Center's unmatched expertise when it became obvious she would need a transplant.

"Our daughter's heart was literally in their hands," Dilliu said. "And because of ACH's care, she will soon be back on the softball diamond, complete with a helmet that reads, 'Amazing Grace.'"