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90-Minute-Old Baby Gets a New Heart

November 15, 1996| From Associated Press

MIAMI — It was a little miracle, but that's all Cheyenne Pyle needed. The 90-minute-old baby with a defective heart was given a new one, becoming what is believed to be the youngest heart transplant recipient in the nation.

"She looks real good today," her mother, Alberta Pyle, said Thursday as she stroked her baby's bare pink foot. Inches away, a line of ugly-as-Frankenstein staples pierce the girl's tiny chest, where a new, golf-ball-sized heart was beating strongly.

Cheyenne has an 80% chance of survival, thanks to prenatal diagnosis of a shriveled heart chamber, tissue-typing of the baby in her mother's womb, a quick donor match, a skillful surgical team and good luck.

When Cheyenne was delivered by caesarean section Sunday, her mother thought, "I just wanted her to keep crying and crying just so that I knew she was alive."

At that point, the donor heart was elsewhere in Florida, still a Lear jet flight away from Jackson Children's Hospital, where more than 35 people had been assembled in three surgical teams.

The surgery began when Cheyenne was 90 minutes old. Five hours and four minutes into the world, Cheyenne had a new heart beating in her 19 1/2-inch body.

Her congenital condition, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, affects about 150,000 children a year in the United States. Left untreated, an artery closes and cuts the body's blood supply within a day or so.

Her parents are still waiting for their first chance to hold Cheyenne in their arms, most likely next week. The baby, weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces at birth, may go home in about three weeks.

Looking ahead, Alberta Pyle is thinking about where to put the crib and how to explain things to Cheyenne's brother and sister. But she isn't worried about her daughter's chest scar.

"It'll go away, and she'll never remember any of this."

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