An 11-year-old boy who received the first-ever pediatric heart transplant at Rady Children's Hospital thanked his doctors Thursday for the surgery.
“Thank you for my new heart,” Eric Montaño, of San Diego, said through tears at a press conference at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
The hospital and its surgeons say they performed the hospital's first pediatric heart transplant last week after they got word that a heart became available for Montano.
Among the team to do the procedure were Dr. Eric Devaney, his transplant surgeon, and Dr. Rakesh Singh, his transplant cardiologist.
The young boy needed the surgery because he had restrictive cardiomyopathy, a condition that meant the walls of his heart got stiff and limited the heart from filing with blood properly. Eric’s twin brother also has a similar condition and is still on the transplant list, waiting for a heart.
At the emotional press conference about the surgery, Montano’s mother, Alma Mundo, started crying as she thanked the hospital and her son’s team.
“There’s no words, I can’t express myself…I’m sorry,” Montano’s mom, Alma Mundo, said through tears. “My son is returning to having a new life and a new heart and I’m just so grateful and thankful.”
The surgery marks the first time the hospital in Southern California was able to provide that procedure to pediatric patients such as Montano. Previously, Rady Hospital's pediatric patients had to travel to Los Angeles to receive a heart transplant.
Eric and his twin brother were both placed on the waiting list for a new heart at the same time. However, regulations meant that Eric was placed higher on the transplant list because he was smaller in size for his age, doctors said.
When his parents first told him about having to go to the hospital again, Eric did not want to go and started to cry, his mom said.
After the six hour surgery, his doctor said, a nurse said the first words out of his mouth were, “this is awesome.”
“My son got a new heart so it’s just something very emotional,” Mundo said. “It’s an experience we never thought we would go through but we’re very happy.”
His doctors said Eric is recovering well. He recently had Cheetos and pizza for breakfast to celebrate. Doctors expect to discharge him in about a week.