Dutch toddler gets lifesaving heart transplant in Chicago

September 28, 2012 4:07:30 PM PDT
A 13-month old boy from the Netherlands is recovering from a heart transplant that took place here in Chicago.

Daniel Petrus and his parents were visiting family in the area when he became gravely ill.

His family is grateful for the doctors at Lurie Children's Hospital for what they call a lifesaving medical procedure.

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Gossett says Daniel was days away from death.

"What we found is that he has restrictive cardio myopathy. It's a problem with the muscle of the heart itself not letting blood enter while it gets very stiff and the heart gets extremely enlarged," said Dr. Gossett.

Daniel's parents were in Chicago on vacation from the Netherlands introducing their son to his grandparents who live in Bolingbrook when Daniel went into cardiac arrest.

Through a translator, the Petrus family expressed shock when they learned about his diagnosis.

"Even at the beginning when they first told us that he needed another heart we really didn't understand what it meant that he needed a different heart. It was my first time hearing about heart transplants," Daniel's father said.0

Since the Petrus family is from a foreign country, doctors had to make sure the transplant was legal.

According to the United Network Organ Sharing Program, the U.S. allows hospitals to perform five percent of their transplants on non-U.S. citizens who are not on waiting lists.

"The options were to let him die or to proceed to transplant," said Dr. Gossett. "We actually talked to the doctors in the Netherlands and we actually got those original records for Daniel. We went through them all really to confirm this was a surprise."

Last month, Daniel celebrated his first birthday at the Ronald McDonald House where his parents have been living during his recovery.

"We are very, very happy and thank God for that he made this miracle for us," said Daniel's father.

Doctors say his long term outcome is very good. With the transplant should add 20 years to his life.

The family is waiting results of a biopsy and genetic testing. Depending on results they could be going home as soon as next week. Dr. Gossett says the only instructions he has for the family is that they send pictures to show his progress over the years.


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