One-year-old Tessa Agnoli of Hampstead, Maryland, is finally home after receiving a heart transplant. She is the youngest patient to receive a heart transplant at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Her journey has been full of ups and downs, but it’s one with a happy ending.
For 10 months, Tessa was on the top of the heart transplant list on A-1 status at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. She was born with complicated congenital heart disease.
“We had to be strong and just have faith that Tessa was going to pull through,” says Courtney Agnoli, Tessa’s mother.
A heart became available and was donated to Tessa via Living Legacy last February. Tessa’s pediatric cardiologist, Carissa Baker-Smith, MD, MS, MPH, called the family to give them the good news. Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, director of pediatric cardiac surgery, performed Tessa’s transplant surgery. She had some complications, but in May, Tessa was given the all-clear to go home. Her entire medical team gathered to say goodbye and wish the family well.
“They are amazing. I mean, they saved her,” Tessa’s father, John, says about the Children’s Heart Program team.
“I don’t think there are words. They gave us our daughter,” Courtney says.
CARISSA BAKER-SMITH, MD, MS, MPH, is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and pediatric cardiologist in the Children’s Heart Program at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
SUNJAY KAUSHAL, MD, PHD, is a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, director of pediatric and adult congenital surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and co-director of the Children’s Heart Program at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
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