Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A six-year-old girl is fighting for her life after her body rejected a donor’s heart. Now her family’s church is praying for a miracle.
Gigi Barnett has more.
An artificial heart beats in six-year-old Teresa Bartlinski’s chest. She waited nearly a year for a life-saving transplant that came in mid-June. But last week, doctors at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia say the heart failed and Teresa is back on the waiting list.
Now members of her church, St. Mark in Catonsville, are praying for a miracle this weekend: that a new heart is found soon.
“We just want to give the family the strength to get through this terrible ordeal, because it is very difficult,” said St. Mark parishioner Gloria Katzenberger.
Teresa’s family is tracking her progress on their website. The artificial heart will only last for about six to eight months.
Father Christopher Whatley is the family’s priest. He says her parents, Ed and Ann Bartlinski, adopted Teresa from China and always have one request for their daughter.
“It always says to me, `Father, please continue the prayers.’ That is our strongest resource. Please continue the prayers,” Father Whatley said.
Long-time St. Mark parishioners Steve and Anita Hook say the prayers for Teresa are non-stop and her struggle to survive has bonded the church community.
“You can’t walk anywhere without somebody commenting on Teresa. You can’t look on Facebook, you get emails constantly on updates. And it’s drawing people outside the St. Mark community,” Anita Hook said.
As parishioners gather to say prayers for another heart for Teresa, they are also hoping the artificial heart works, and that is sustains her organs.
The church has also sponsored several fundraisers to pay for some of Teresa’s medical expenses.