History making heart patient from Texas Children's Hospital returns home after year long medical journey


HOUSTON - (May 3, 2010) - After a year-long medical odyssey at TexasChildren's Hospital in Houston, Francisco "Frank" DeSantiago, the first heartpatient to be discharged from a pediatric hospital with a mechanical heartpump, has returned to his home in the South Texas where he will celebrate hisseventeenth birthday with his family and friends. Frank received a clean billof health after his recent biopsy to check his newly transplanted heart. He wasgiven the green light to return home.

"Frank has been an amazing success story," said Dr. David L.D. Morales,pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at Texas Children's Heart Center in Houstonwho implanted Frank's device last May and performed his recent heart transplantin February. "He has had a long journey in the past year as he lived with amechanical heart to his latest feat of recovering from a heart transplant. Weare so pleased that he can finally return to his home and be with his friendsand family."

De Santiago will continue to reside in Houston and undergo rehabilitation andfollow-up check-ups for three months before returning to his home in southTexas. He calls his heart "a gift" and is learning how to care for himself andhis new organ.

Frank's medical history over the past year includes:

May 11, 2009 - At age 16, Frank was flown to Texas Children's from hisSouth Texas home after suffering a stroke. He was diagnosed with dilatedcardiomyopathy, a condition in which his heart was enlarged to more than twiceits normal size and could not pump blood efficiently. Physicians at TexasChildren's placed him on a heart transplant list because his heart was failing.

May 19, 2009 - Doctors decided to implant a HeartMate II, a mechanicalheart pumping device that they placed inside his chest cavity to assist hisnative heart. The pump improved Frank's cardiovascular condition and gave himthe strength to exercise and grow stronger as he awaited transplantation.

October 29, 2009 - For five months Frank remained in the hospital. Thenhe made news for being the first patient to ever be discharged from anypediatric hospital with an implanted mechanical heart pump. Until that time,pediatric hospitals had kept patients with mechanical heart devices in thehospital - often in the ICU -- while awaiting transplantation. With hisnewfound freedom, Frank and his mother moved into a small apartment near thehospital. He received home schooling and was able to enjoy some normal teenactivities such as going to the movies and kicking around his soccer ball. Hecontinued with physical therapy and other follow-up care once or twice a weekat the hospital.

January 29, 2010 - Three months later, Frank received a donor heart in anine-hour transplant operation at Texas Children's. Once again, he recuperatedin the hospital for a couple of weeks after heart transplantation, and then heand his mother moved back into the small apartment. During the following threemonths, Frank continued his home schooling and came to the hospital two orthree times a week for follow-up care.

April 30, 2010 - After a test confirmed his good heart health, thedoctors said Frank could return to his family home in South Texas.

"Frank showed a great deal of maturity in caring for himself during the longperiod when he had the mechanical pump and then again after his hearttransplantation," said Dr. Jeffrey Dreyer, medical director of cardiactransplantation at Texas Children's Heart Center." It was the reason we couldallow him to leave the hospital with the mechanical heart pump. He came to usas a young man with a failing heart. Now he leaves with a new heart beating inhis chest and hope for an active future. He's one of our history-makingpatients who will always be part of the Texas Children's family. We're pleasedthat he can return to his family and be reunited with his friends after a yearof being in Houston."

Doctors say that Frank will need to come to Texas Children's every three monthsduring the first year for regular check ups.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.