In Phoenix, Arizona, Baby Oliver was born seven weeks premature with a weak heart the size of a 5-year-old’s. Doctors were sure Oliver’s time on the Earth would be brief, but he somehow fought on until day six, when doctors performed a miraculous operation.
According to CBS News, Carolyn Otto’s nightmare began during a routine ultrasound. Doctors found that her baby, Oliver, had a weak and abnormally large heart. The doctors said he would most likely be stillborn, but his best chance was for him to have more time in the womb and eventually receive a transplant. Yahoo News reports the doctor planned for a birth at week 36, four weeks early.
When Carolyn’s water broke seven weeks early, she was devastated.
“I thought that was it. I woke up screaming, screaming. I just kept saying, ‘This is it. I just lost him.'”
She was immediately rushed to the hospital. As the baby was delivered, nurses put in a breathing tube, which did not appear to be working at first.
“He came out blue,” Carolyn Otto explained. “I just kept saying, ‘Why isn’t he crying? Why isn’t he crying?'”
Oliver was breathing though, just barely, and remarkably, the baby kept breathing for six days.
At that point, it was time for doctors to perform their own miracle. Without a heart transplant, Oliver would not be able to hold out forever, but finding a matching donor for a premature baby seems nearly impossible.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly what they did. The heart came from another premature baby with the same blood type, who was found within two days. It was perfectly sized for the tiny infant, and although it was extremely risky, the doctors managed the transplant in a grueling 10-hour operation.
His mother explained to Yahoo! News, “From our understanding Oliver is the youngest recipient in the nation. He received his transplant at 34 weeks and three days gestation.”
According to the hospital, the baby’s lungs are still weak, but he’s doing well and is now 6.1 pounds.
Carolyn Otto and her husband, Chris Crawford, are reflective and thankful.
“I would always say, ‘Why? Why our baby?’ and Chris just looked at me and said, ‘Would you rather it be someone else’s?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not. I would never want anyone to go through this pain that we’ve had to deal with,’ and he has just surpassed everyone’s expectations. He has done phenomenal.”
Of course, somewhere, there is the other side of the heart transplant, the premature newborn who didn’t make it.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]