Heart transplant saves baby’s life in the nick of time

SEATTLE -- A baby was near death and in cardiac arrest last week, but a new heart arrived in Seattle just in time to save his life.

The baby's family, which is from Alaska, had been waiting since November to get their baby Lincoln a new heart and it literally came down to the last minute at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Just days before the heart transplant, the family didn’t think their baby would make it.

“It was tough because we knew Lincoln was facing an uphill battle. The last two days it’s fair to say that I kind of fell apart a little bit. You just feel this despair and emptiness, you know, like time's up and my son is on his last leg,” said Rob Seay, Lincoln’s father.

A picture shows Lincoln’s purple hand almost a day before his new heart and then a day later his hand is a normal color.

Last summer, the Seay family flew from Alaska to Portland where scans showed Lincoln had a rare birth defect that caused all of his organs to grow on the opposite side of his body. Doctors operated on the baby hours after his birth. They thought surgery would fix the problem but months later Lincoln’s heart started to fail. The family went back to Portland and then they were moved to Seattle Children’s Hospital, which handles the most complicated transplant cases.

The family knew it could take 90 days for a heart to be available and at the 11th hour it finally happened. Doctors were able to save baby Lincoln right as he started to run out of time.

“They took him back for surgery at 3 a.m. and they were prepping him and his donor heart was en route and he went into cardiac arrest on the table. They were doing chest compressions and, from what I understand, it wasn’t getting him anywhere and so because the heart was en route they went ahead and opened his chest and the surgeon reached in and hand-compressed his heart until the new heart arrived. So, when we say he was out of time, he was literally out of time,” said Mindy Seay, Lincoln’s mother.

Doctors say Lincoln’s prognosis looks good but he does face some challenges as he recovers from surgery and his body tries keep his immune system from rejecting the heart.

Lincoln’s mom said she will treasure her baby’s heart more than any other gift and will always respect and be grateful to the child and family who donated the heart.