Three-month-old Daniela Soto was diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition shortly after her birth Nov. 22. Doctors at Children’s determined that the Berlin heart was the only option for Daniela, making her the youngest, smallest baby ever supported by the mechanical device.
The Berlin heart provides circulatory support, extending the life of patients for up to one year until an appropriate heart match is found. Daniela is the first child at Children’s to receive a Berlin heart since the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the hearts in children in December 2011. Before the approval, getting permission to use a Berlin heart could have taken days or weeks.
A 5-month-old baby who received a heart transplant earlier this year is now sleeping in her own room for the first time.
Daniela Soto's bad heart was replaced with an artificial one, and she recently received a full heart transplant.
"It's hard. It's scary. It's frightening," said her mother, Maria Soto, "that you want to change you want to take their place."
Five months and five open-heart surgeries later, Daniela is finally home.
"You want the ground to open up and eat you alive," Soto said.
Through all the suffering, Soto witnessed courage -- in her daughter, who faced down and endured the pain and in the anonymous family that chose to help them while losing their own child.
"My daughter has two moms and two dads, and that baby's heart is her angel that's taking care of her," Soto said.
Daniela for the first time felt the sun on her face and a spring breeze as she was carried out of Children's Medical Center in Dallas on her father's shoulder.
"It's going to be an adventure around the house, just letting her see different stuff that she should have seen a long time ago," Soto said.
Daniela's recovery is an ongoing process.
If all goes well she'll have another homecoming of sorts a year from now -- a chance to meet her second parents, the donors who looked past their own grief in the loss of their child to save her.
"It's just amazing," Soto said. "I just want to tell them thank you and thanks for the courage that they had to actually let their own baby go for somebody else and thank you; the Lord's always with them."