Baby Paul, Youngest to Receive New Heart, Flies Home
An energetic and healthy Baby Paul, the world’s youngest heart transplant recipient, went home to Canada on Friday.
As he struggled in mother Alice Holc’s arms, and smiled for the cameras in the Canadian Airlines International VIP lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, the blond, blue-eyed boy hardly seemed to be a child who has spent most of his short life in a hospital.
“Oh, he’s not fragile,” Holc said as the fidgety 8-month-old baby tried to climb over her shoulder. “He’s doing really well.”
Loma Linda University Medical Center officials said there is a 99% chance Baby Paul’s body will not reject the donor heart taken from an east Canadian infant born without a brain.
The child will remain on daily medication for the rest of his life, his mother said, a matter she said she accepts with no qualms. “The medication he is on now, he’ll always take. We’re surprised at how relaxed we are about it,” she said. “We’ve gotten really accustomed to having his heart tested every day.”
Anita Rockwell, hospital spokeswoman, said that of the 16 infants under six months to undergo the complicated surgery, 13 have survived. Baby Paul is also the youngest such patient to be released by the hospital.
Paul Gabriel Bailey Holc, whose middle names honor the infant heart donor and heart surgeon Leonard Bailey, had been diagnosed nine weeks before his birth as having hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition in which the side of the heart that pumps blood into the body’s principal artery fails to develop. Infants with the defect normally die within hours or days of birth. When doctors at Loma Linda confirmed his condition hours after birth, they immediately began the transplant operation.
Earlier this week, Holc’s husband, Gordon, and 5-year-old son Jason packed up the family car with their belongings from their Redlands apartment and began the drive home to White Rock, which is on the Canadian-U.S. border near Vancouver.
The Holcs relocated to Southern California to be with Baby Paul as he went through what is normally a one-year observation period at the Loma Linda hospital.