BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When WJZ first introduced you to little Madison Parrott, she was fighting for her life and wondering every day when and if she’d get a new heart. Now Maddy’s prayers are answered and it all started with a life-changing phone call that said she’s getting a new heart.
Jessica Kartalija was with Maddy every step of the way as she gets a second chance.
Little Madison Parrott is big on personality. Born with a diseased heart, she’s had to fight to survive every day of her life.
When WJZ first introduced you to the feisty 5-year-old from Middle River, she was running out of time. But now, after months of waiting, her parents got good news: there’s a donor heart for Maddy.
Maddy’s father, Marvin Parrott, remembers getting the call.
“He said, `I just want to tell you, we found a match.’ I was stunned,” he said.
“It’s a celebration. We’re excited,” said her mother, Dana Parrott.
There was a rush to Hopkins for her parents, brother and sister. The hurry and wait was agonizing. The cardiac team at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center took hours to prep her for the life-changing operation.
But for Maddy to live, another child did not–and that family is grieving. The Parrotts are very appreciative of this gift.
“It has to take a lot to say that I’m losing my loved one but I’m willing to help pass life on to someone else,” Dana said.
“That’s the toughest part. It really is. My heart goes out to whoever that family is,” Marvin said.
“They were brave to allow this,” said Dr. William Ravekes, medical director for pediatric heart transplantation at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
If this works, it will change Maddy’s life.
Doctors raced against time to remove her damaged heart and get her ready for the new one.
“Speed is of the essence,” said Dr. Luca Vricella, director of pediatric cardiac surgery and heart transplantation at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Maddy’s new heart was flown from out-of-state and rushed by ambulance directly to the operating room. It must be a near-perfect match for Maddy.
WJZ got rare access inside the OR, where the next 10 hours were critical.
“You are doing something that’s very unphysiologic. You take a heart and you put it in an ice bucket for four hours and then you expect for it to work,” Vricella said.
Maddy’s damaged heart was taken out and machines took over keeping her alive. Her circulation and body temperature were reduced. The surgeons examined Maddy’s old heart inside the bucket as they prepared to open the box and take the new heart out.
For an hour and a half, Maddy was without a beating heart. Surgeons got one shot at custom-fitting the new heart into Maddy’s tiny chest. Once she was sewn up, it was the moment of truth. The machine that kept her alive was no longer needed and Maddy’s new heart beats to life.
A challenging year is ahead, as the family hopes Maddy’s body accepts her new heart, but now the possibilities are endless for her.
“It’s exciting to know that she has her second chance. She’ll be able to live as much of a normal life as possible,” Dana said. “Without limitations.”
Maddy’s doctors will do check-ups throughout the year and WJZ will be there as she heals. We’ll keep you updated on Maddy’s second chance.
Her family has started a website to help with some of her medical bills. To donate, click here.
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