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LA girl's life saved by Berlin Heart procedure in Ark. | News

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LA girl's life saved by Berlin Heart procedure in Ark.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -  For the first time in Arkansas history a heart patient, fitted with a life-saving device, travels to the Arkansas Children's Hospital. The journey was slow and delicate for 3-year-old Malia Sanchez as she flew in from New Orleans.

A fragile heartbeat is given a second chance through a dangerous journey. Malia Sanchez needs a new heart, but for now an artificial one keeps her alive. The Louisiana girl traveled more than 400 miles from New Orleans to the Arkansas Children's Hospital, where top cardiology teams can monitor her.

"Because they're more experienced with the Berlin Machine. And if it goes off they know exactly what's wrong," says Erica Sanchez, Malia's mother.

Malia's little heart is partially powered by the Berlin Heart, an electrical device that circulates blood through her body and keeps her alive. She's connected to the machine with tubes and where she goes, it goes. After a delicate and tedious trip, Malia's mother Erica breathes a sigh of relief.

"Money can come and go. And your family and your faith is all that you have," says Sanchez.

Doctor's chose to move Malia to Little Rock because she was not showing signs of improvement and the previous hospital did not have a heart transplant program.

"She only has the left ventricle. So she is still on lots of medication to keep her right heart happy and keep it putting blood in through to the left ventricle which then this device pumps to her body," says Doctor Elizabeth Frazier of Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Frazier heads up the cardiac transplant program at ACH and says it's one of the more active programs in the country. ACH served the majority of U.S. Berlin Heart patients which is around 35 cases.

"We have had patients as long as six months on this device other programs have had patients for actually years," says Frazier.

Only time will tell how long the Sanchez family will have to wait for a new heart.

"I definitely can't pray for someone else's child to lose their life, but I definitely want my child to live," says Sanchez.

Malia and her mom will have to live at Arkansas Children's Hospital for a year. After that, they hope to return home to family and friends in Alexandria, Louisiana.


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