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A Second Chance At Life

February 17, 2023
Baby SaRyia smiling

“A ticking time bomb”

Those words were used to describe SaRyia Moore’s heart before she underwent a life-saving transplant at Texas Children’s.

As 2-year-old SaRyia Moore and her family celebrate American Heart Month in February, they will do so with full, grateful hearts — including SaRyia’s transplanted heart she received two years ago, saving her young life.

When SaRyia’s mother, Brittney Brooks, was 20 weeks pregnant, her obstetrician in Brenham, Texas, realized that both she and her unborn baby needed the care of specialized maternal-fetal medicine physicians. They referred her to the Maternal-Fetal Medicine group at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women for evaluation.

Specialists at Texas Children’s discovered a problem with SaRyia’s left ventricle: an aneurysm that was enlarging her heart and preventing it from pumping properly. Even 20 weeks before her expected birth, they knew she would need a new, healthy heart to survive.

“From the moment I arrived for my first appointment, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Emily Lawrence was fully upfront with me, telling me the good and the bad and explaining exactly what I could expect as a large team of doctors worked to save my baby’s life,” said Brittney. “She stayed in such close contact with me, and I felt assured that SaRyia and I were in excellent hands.”

When SaRyia was born in December 2020, Brittney learned that her baby’s heart was a “ticking time bomb,” and a heart transplant was indeed her only hope. SaRyia spent her first month of life at Texas Children’s, as her care team worked to stabilize her heart while she waited on the transplant list for a new one.

Nearly one year later, on Dec. 3, 2021, Brittney got the call that her baby’s new heart had arrived. She rushed her child to Texas Children’s, where she received regular updates from the operating room as SaRyia received her heart transplant and a second chance at a full life.

As Brittney would later discover, SaRyia’s transplant was the hospital’s 2,000th solid organ transplant — a huge milestone for Texas Children’s, which has the highest volume of any pediatric transplant program in the United States.

“Our heart transplant program is truly exceptional because the depth of experience we have here translates to great outcomes,” said Dr. Jeff Heinle, Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery at Texas Children’s and Professor of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. "Patients will always receive outstanding, comprehensive care at Texas Children's Hospital."

Dr. William Dreyer, Medical Director of Texas Children’s Heart Transplant Program and Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, concurs. “When it comes to heart transplants, the phrase, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ is very applicable. It truly takes the expertise, experience and resources of an entire pediatric heart center to successfully care for our transplant patients — and very few in the world can do it as seamlessly or as well as we do at Texas Children’s.”

Baby SaRyia in sunglasses

With its team having performed more than 500 heart transplants, Texas Children’s is listed by the country’s organ matching registry as No. 1 for pediatric heart, liver and lung transplants and No. 2 for kidney transplants, with outcomes among the best in the nation.

SaRyia’s care team is quick to applaud the selfless donors and families who make organ transplants possible at Texas Children’s. The Transplant Services team routinely refers to donor families as the “real heroes” of every transplant story.

According to Brittney, one would never know that SaRyia was so sick. She’s active and loves dancing and clapping to her favorite cartoons. A small scar on her chest is the only sign of how close she came to losing her life.

“There really are no words to express my gratitude,” Brittney added. “Without Texas Children’s, I wouldn't have SaRyia now. I want other parents to know about the expertise and resources available to them, too. I hope that by sharing our story, we can help another family in such great need.”

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