Twin Receives Heart in Early Morning Surgery

Four-and-a-half-month-old Abigail Patrick received a new heart at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt early this morning. The Huntsville, Ala., infant and her twin sister Shea have been on the heart transplant list since Oct. 30, both suffering from cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening disease which enlarges and weakens the heart. Abigail, the sicker of the two, has been in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital for three weeks.

Frank Scholl, M.D., assistant professor of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, performed the transplant after receiving the donor organ at approximately 7:30 a.m. The transplant was completed by 11:30 a.m.

Debra Dodd, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and director of the heart transplant program at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, said the two-and-a-half week wait for a donor heart was relatively short, which comes as a great relief to Abigail’s family.

"We found out at 8:30 p.m. Monday and notified Abigail’s mother, Lisa," Dodd said. "I told Lisa it looked like we had a donor heart for Abigail; she was happy and relieved."

Davis Drinkwater, M.D., professor of Surgery in Cardiac Surgery, performed the donor heart harvest at a location out of state. "As soon as Dr. Drinkwater called to confirm the donor heart looked good, Dr. Scholl began to prepare Abigail for surgery," Dodd said.

"When Abigail moved into the surgical area to be prepared about 4 a.m. she looked good," Dodd said. "She is an alert little baby although she was still dependent on many medications."