Two twin boys are recovering after they both received successful heart transplants, just eight weeks apart from one another.
11-year-old Eric Montano received the first-ever pediatric heart transplant at Rady Children’s Hospital in January. His brother, Raul, also needed a new heart and received a transplant in March. The boys’ cousin also received a heart transplant in the past eight weeks.
Raul sat with his mother, father and brother at a press conference Tuesday and spoke emotionally about his recent transplant.
"It was amazing," said Raul. "It was a strong heart beat and I just cried."
The San Diego boys needed the surgery because both of them suffered from restrictive cardiomyopathy, a condition that meant the walls of a heart got stiff and limited the heart from filing with blood properly.
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.
Alma Mundo, their mother, said though her sons had a heart condition, she tried to give them a normal life. Now, she is overjoyed they both have new hearts.
"I'm screaming everyday of happiness and thankfulness that both of them are doing great," said Alma Mundo, their mother.
As their diseases progressed, Eric and Raul became limited in what they could do, including participating in sports and playing with friends.
“When I see them start walking around, I see the dream came true for them,” said their father, Rogelio Montano.
Transplant surgeon Daniel DiBardino said performing the surgery and watching the boys recover has been incredible.
“You go through this process where you're doing heart surgery, but it's a special kind of heart surgery and for a period of time you have the patients on the table and there's literally no heart in their chest and they're connected to the bypass machine and it's just this tremendous thing that these patients go through - they recover and you see them a couple weeks later and they're sitting there talking about playing soccer,” said the transplant surgeon. “It's absolutely incredible. It's a miracle."
Both boys are in the process of recovering. Eric and Raul said they can't wait to go to school, watch TV and play sports.