A Tiny Heart. A Big Victory During COVID-19
After spending most of her life as a hospital patient, nine-month-old Baby Alexandra in August 2020 went home with a new heart—one of the few pediatric heart transplants in New York since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Alexandra Lovo came to Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in March 2020, during the peak of COVID-19. She was only four months old and in severe heart failure due to a condition she was born with, called dilated cardiomyopathy. When the chambers of the heart are dilated and stretched, it becomes difficult for the heart to pump properly.
To gain time, her doctors implanted a Berlin Heart EXCOR to provide mechanical support while they searched for a donor heart. Months later, on July 9, Lauren Glass, MD, Medical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplant, Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, identified a heart from another state.
“We had many bridges to cross to ensure a safe and successful transplant in the midst of the pandemic,” Dr. Glass says. “Finding a match is always hard, and this one was ABO incompatible, meaning the donor’s blood type did not match Alexandra’s. This is not an insurmountable challenge, but it adds an extra layer of complexity. Luckily, after checking and re-checking the donor heart to ensure that the donor was not exposed to COVID-19, we were able to move forward with the transplant.”
During the months of waiting, her doctors were inspired by the little girl’s spirit. “It was our pleasure to care for Alexandra! She is a fighter. She has extremely loving and caring parents. Alexandra was a ray of sunshine during this whole COVID-19 pandemic,” says Raghav Murthy, MD, Surgical Director, Pediatric Heart Transplant, Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.
Alexandra’s transplant was performed soon after the heart was identified, and her team took comfort in the fact that this tiny girl was a huge victory during the pandemic. With so many surgeries postponed, Alexandra’s went forward since it was a matter of survival. “Alexandra is doing very well, and we couldn’t be happier for her and her family who have waited so long,” Dr. Glass says.
“Alexandra is our miracle baby. It was our privilege to see this transplant through in spite of so many hurdles and so many months of waiting,” says Scott Aydin, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care, Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.