A two-week-old Council Bluffs girl is the first baby to undergo a heart transplant at Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha.
Lainey Wilkinson was born with a congenital heart defect that could not be repaired. She received the heart in an operation early Monday, a Children's spokeswoman said. The baby is recovering in the hospital's intensive care unit.
Lainey is the daughter of Jeff and Jessica Wilkinson of Council Bluffs. She has been hospitalized at Children's since her birth.
Dr. James Hammel, a surgeon who is the clinical service chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Children's, said in a statement that the surgery went well.
Children's runs the first program in the state dedicated to pediatric heart transplants. Last month, it won interim approval from the federal United Network for Organ Sharing to start a pediatric heart transplant program. The program will serve infants and children up to age 17.
“We cannot thank everyone enough, including the cardiac team and the donor family for sharing the precious gift we received,” said Jeff Wilkinson, Lainey's father.
Children's officials noted that the first adult heart transplant in the state was performed on April 8, 1985, at Omaha's Clarkson Hospital. In the mid-80s, a few infant heart transplants were performed elsewhere in Nebraska.
About 370 children a year receive heart transplants in hospitals around the nation. The most active pediatric heart transplant centers in the region are in St. Louis, Denver, Minneapolis and Little Rock, Ark. — Bob Glissmann