Madeline with her sisters.
Madeline, age five, at a regular check-up with her cardiologist. “She loved the hearts, and she asked me to take her picture,” Madeline’s mom, Maria, said.
(right) Madeline, just under one month old, underwent the Norwood surgery on January 19, 2015 at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
M adeline Piña looks like any other eight year old. She is a dark haired beauty who loves pink and playing with dolls and toys. This shy first-grader is an artist and actress who loves to cut, color, and glue. What makes Madeline different is that she has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The left side of her heart did not form correctly, so she does not have normal blood flow, and her heart cannot pump oxygen-rich blood to the body properly. When Madeline was born prematurely, doctors understood she had severe health problems. From birth, Madeline underwent extensive testing. Finally, an echocardiogram, a scan of the heart, and nearby blood vessels provided her diagnosis. Madeline underwent her first heart surgery, the Norwood surgery, when she was 25 days old. During this surgery, doctors rebuilt Madeline’s aorta, giving her better blood flow and more oxygen. After the surgery, Madeline was discharged but only stayed home for one week due to developing rhinovirus. At nine months old, Madeline had her second heart surgery, the Glenn procedure. According to kidshealth.org , during the Glenn procedure, the surgeon disconnects the superior vena cava from the heart and connects it to the pulmonary artery. This procedure allows the blood from the pulmonary artery to work more efficiently to take the blood to the lungs. The surgeon also removed the shunt from the Norwood surgery. On September 7, 2021, her doctor put Madeline on the transplant waiting list because a transplant is the only thing
that will prolong her life. Since being placed on the transplant list, Madeline has undergone extensive medical testing to see if she can physically withstand the heart transplant. She has also gone through psychological testing and counseling to help her better understand the effects of this procedure. Her family has also undergone extensive education and counseling to help them navigate the transplant process. Madeline and her family are on call 24 hours a day as she waits for a compatible donor with a similar body size and matching blood type. She is one of about 470 children in the United States who are waiting for a heart donor. When the national database identifies the optimal donor, Madeline immediately goes to Children’s Hospital in Dallas for a lifesaving transplant. This transplant surgery will take up to six hours and require an average three-week hospital stay. Her family prays daily that this call comes soon. After she receives her heart, Madeline will be on various medications throughout her life. Doctors have told the Piñas that the average heart transplant lasts about 15 years. After that time, Madeline may have to go back on the transplant list. Madeline only gets about 80% oxygen now, so a heart transplant will significantly improve her life. “Doctors will continue to monitor Madeline for a year after her surgery,” said mom, Maria Piña. “They will watch for any signs of rejection.” As they wait for the transplant call, Madeline’s parents, Maria and Fernando, spend countless hours traveling to appointments
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