This Family Have Great Reason To Celebrate This Holiday: Their Baby Gets A Heart Transplant

November 24, 2017
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A family in Atlanta has a special reason to celebrate this holiday season, as their young daughter received a heart transplant after almost 2 years waiting.

Zuzu al-Taey was born with a heart condition and because of her rare blood type; her family had all but given up hope that their daughter would get a new donor heart.

However, their prayers were answered and last week after 20 agonizing months of waiting Zuzu had her life-saving heart transplant in the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Anwar Jasim, Zuzu’s mother spoke to Fox News and said “She is the only baby who has waited all this time. Most of the babies, they get a heart in like 3 months, maximum 6 months.” Yet Zuzu had to wait 20 long and anxious months.

Image (Fox 5 Atlanta)

No stranger to the halls of Children’s Healthcare, Zuzu quickly became a staff favorite. “She was the life of the hallway. Anytime she came out of the room, everyone was always, like, ‘Hey, Zuzu!’ And she would wave,” said Nicole Lehr, a nurse practitioner with the heart transplant program.

Last Sunday, doctors were able to perform the all-important heart transplant surgery much to the delight and relief of Zuzu’s family and doctors alike who fell in love with the little girl with big brown eyes.

“There were some tears, a lot of happy tears. I know that the floor, the hospital really, was just super excited for it to come.  Because this was her home away from home for so long,” Lehr recalls.

Image (Fox 5 Atlanta)

Zuzu’s life was very limited due to her condition, but she never let it trouble her and she got on with life as best she could. “I don’t think she really knew. I think she thought she was home, just normally with her siblings, and I think that every time we saw her come in she was doing great, a lot of activity. She was jumping on the trampoline, doing all the normal kid things,” Lehr explains.

The two year wait was tormenting for Zuzu’s parents Anwar and Salah, who emigrated from Iraq a number of years ago. Every checkup they would remain hopeful that the transplant team had found a new heart, but always got the same heartbreaking answer, ‘not yet’.

Anwar had almost given up and was resigned to the possibility that the transplant may not happen. She remembers thinking “There is no way Zuzu is going to get a heart. I was hopeless. There is no way Zuzu is going to get a heart.”

Five days later the family got the all-important call and Anwar said she was so stunned she asked the transplant coordinator to repeat the good news over and over again. “I asked her 5 times. It was hard to believe it, that Zuzu gets a heart. I can’t believe it,” she said.

Now after almost a year in the hospital staff and transplant team are hoping to be able to send the little girl home with her new, functioning heart. Nicole Lehr says “They went from being at home with a toddler with a really significant heart condition to, 24 hours later, having a heart that is functioning perfectly normal in her body.”

Zuzu is doing really well since the transplant and her mother said it is hard to describe how she feels. “It’s a different feeling. Scared, happy, excited, everything.”

Doctors are hopeful that Zuzu can go home in just a few days “with a heart as strong as she is.”

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