Credit: Texas Children's Hospital
March 2, 2022 – As 1-year-old SaRyia Moore and her family celebrate American Heart Month, they do so will full, grateful hearts — including SaRyia's transplanted heart she received just eight weeks ago, saving her young life.
When SaRyia's mother, Brittney Brooks, was 20-weeks pregnant with her third daughter, her obstetrician in Brenham, Texas referred her to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Group at Texas Children's Hospital's Pavilion for Women for evaluation. With an aneurysm in her left ventricle, enlarging her heart and preventing it from pumping properly, SaRyia needed a new, healthy heart — even 20 weeks before her expected birth.
Knowing both mother and unborn daughter would need the care of specialized maternal fetal medicine physicians, her local doctor referred Brittney to Texas Children's Hospital's Pavilion for Women in the Texas Medical Center. "From the moment I arrived for my first appointment, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Emily Lawrence was fully upfront with me, telling me the good and bad, and exactly what I could expect as a large team of doctors worked to save my baby's life," said Brittney. "As fluid kept developing around SaRyia's heart, Dr. Lawrence kept telling me, 'Let's just get you to 26 weeks or 30 weeks,' always reaching to achieve a further milestone. She stayed in such close contact with me, I felt reassured that SaRyia and I both were in excellent hands."
Dr. Lawrence said, "When I first met Ms. Moore, I was really impressed with her calm and clarity. We spent almost two hours together at that first visit reviewing the rarity of an aneurysm this size, its location, and the poor function of her heart at that time. I was very honest and upfront with her that surgical repair of this would be near impossible given the size and location."
After SaRyia was born in December 2020, Brittney learned that her two-week-old baby's heart was a "ticking time bomb," and a heart transplant was her only hope for an extended life. SaRyia spent the first month of her life in the hospital, as her care team worked to stabilize her heart for an indefinite wait on the transplant list. Nearly one year later, on Dec. 3, Brittney got the call that her baby's new heart had arrived. She rushed her child to Texas Children's Hospital where she received regular updates from the operating room as SaRyia received a second chance at a full life.
Unbeknownst to Brittney, Texas Children's Hospital recently passed two important milestones, with more than 500 heart transplants performed and 2,000 solid organ transplants performed — with SaRyia as the hospital's 2,000th organ transplant. These milestones not only saved SaRyia's life, but point to the Heart Transplant Program and Solid Organ Transplant Program overall as the highest volume pediatric transplant programs in the United States.
"Our heart transplant program is truly exceptional because of the depth of experience which translates into great outcomes," said Dr. Christopher A. Caldarone, Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital and Professor of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, who performed SaRyia's heart transplant. "Patients deserve to be treated in centers with the most experience."
Dr. William Dreyer, Medical Director of the Texas Children's Heart Transplant Program and Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, concurs. "When it comes to heart transplants, the phrase, 'it takes a village to raise a child,' is very applicable. It truly takes the expertise, experience and resources of an entire pediatric heart center to successfully care for our transplant patients — and there are very few in the world that can do it as seamlessly or as well as we do at Texas Children's."
To underscore this point, the largest children's hospital in the country achieved other transplant milestones in 2021 beyond its 500th heart transplant and 2,000th transplant patient. Newly released data from the Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network, the country's unique public-private registry for organ matching, places Texas Children's Hospital at No. 1 for pediatric heart, liver and lung transplants and No. 2 for kidney transplants, with outcomes that are among the best in the nation.
SaRyia's care team is quick to applaud the selfless donors and families who make organ transplants possible at Texas Children's Hospital. The Transplant Services team routinely refers to donor families as the "real heroes" of every transplant story.
According to Brittney, even eight weeks post-heart transplant, one would never know that SaRyia was so sick. "She is back in her comfort zone at home with her sisters, Brenajah, 16, and Bre'Niyah, 11, dancing and clapping to her favorite cartoon, CoComelon!" Brittney said. "A small scar on her chest is the only sign of how close she came to losing her life.
"There really are no words to express my gratitude," she said. "Without Texas Children's, I wouldn't have SaRyia now. I want other parents to know about the expertise and resources available to them, too. I hope that by sharing our story, we can help another family in such great need."
For more information: www.texaschildrens.org