Two-month-old baby girl Naiara in Spain got an extraordinary new chance at life after having pioneering heart surgery.

She received a heart transplant where doctors used a heart that had already stopped beating from a donor with a different blood type, Hospital Gregorio Maranon said on Monday (May 17).

“It was twice the magic,” said Juan Miguel Gil Jaurena, head of children’s cardiac surgery at the Madrid hospital, explaining that such techniques simply did not exist for young children three years ago and had never been used simultaneously on such a small baby.

The case opens the way to saving more infants who are in need of heart transplants and are too young to use ventricular support devices until they get a compatible donor.

The procedure was complicated because the donor was at a hospital in a different Spanish region and its heart had stopped beating for a few minutes, requiring a recovery procedure. The hospital would not disclose any details about the donor.

Naiara had been diagnosed with a congenital heart disease before she was born and weighed only 3.2 kg when the surgery was performed.

“She is the smallest baby we’ve had for a heart transplant, and 24 hours before the surgery her condition worsened a lot,” said Manuela Camino, head of children’s cardiac transplant unit.

Naiara is still recovering at the hospital.

With 37.4 donors per million people, Spain last year was the world leader in transplants, according to the global database on donation and transplantation of the World Health Organization (WHO) handled by the Spanish Transplant Organization (ONT).


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