Nine months after their daughter became the recipient of a pioneering partial heart transplant, which ultimately saved her life as well as the life of another infant, a couple from New Jersey is celebrating their daughter’s first birthday.

It was on February 18 that the loved ones of Brooklyn Civil celebrated the milestone by throwing a party with a bumblebee theme, replete with a smash cake in the style of a beehive, in honor of the little girl who was instrumental in making medical history.

Sam Civil, Brooklyn’s mother, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview that “it felt incredible to be able to celebrate her with all of our family and friends.”

How can we make the occasion even more memorable? Having an understanding of how far Brooklyn has progressed.
When Sam was 20 weeks pregnant, the Civils discovered that their daughter had a disorder known as truncus arteriosus, which is a rare cardiac issue. They discovered that their daughter had “something wrong” with her heart. According to NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, which was the location where the groundbreaking operation was carried out, her heart never developed a pulmonary valve or an aortic valve, both of which are necessary in order to pump blood out of the heart.

Brooklyn, on the other hand, was born with a “single outflow valve, also known as a truncal valve, and a hole between the two pumping chambers of her heart.”

“It was terrifying,” Sam confesses to PEOPLE. “However, everyone was very optimistic and positive about the fact that she would be able to lead a life that was relatively normal, despite the fact that she would be required to undergo surgical procedures.”

Sam recalls that Brooklyn had her first surgery when she was only four days old. During this procedure, the physicians were able to correct some of the problems that were occurring with her heart.

But we knew that she was going to need other procedures, and we knew that another surgery was sort of on the horizon,” she says in an interview with PEOPLE. We did not have a certain time frame in mind, but we were considering that it would be within the next month or two.

The Civils got a phone call from their physician on the morning of May 10, 2023. The doctor informed them that Brooklyn was a candidate for a domino transplant, which would include receiving healthy valves from another infant. The baby in question was Mia Skaats, who was eight months old and was also having a complete heart transplant.

According to Sam, “It all kind of came to fruition, and we found out that it was all within a couple of hours that the idea happened, and then they discussed it, and then they called us, and then it happened.”

“To me, the most significant aspect of this is that we went from helping one baby to two,” Dr. Marc Richmond, the pediatric cardiologist who oversaw the medical care teams for the sisters, stated in a press statement issued by the hospital.

Richmond continued by saying, “The primary reason that infants pass away while they are on a transplant list is because they do not match with a donor in a timely manner.” In other words, the capacity to assist more than one kid is the golden grail for us. A large number of individuals were present at the hospital, providing direct care for both of the children. It was a collaborative effort from everyone in the team.

After a few months had passed, the infants were doing quite well. Mia cooed and wriggled excitedly in her mother Nicole’s arms during an appearance on the Today program in August of last year. Brooklyn, on the other hand, was pleased to sit on Sam’s lap.

Since the operation, the two infants have gotten together on a few occasions, along with their grateful parents, of course. The Civils have said that the connection that they have with the Skaats is one that will never be severed.

It is our intention to bring Brooklyn and Mia together as they get older and their immune systems become more robust. We have every intention of doing so, and we are looking forward to it.

In May, the families are going to have another party to commemorate the passing of one year since the procedures that were performed on their newborn daughters.

In the meanwhile, the Civils have said that they are making the most of every moment they have with Brooklyn, who she describes as “the sweetest baby in the world,” according to her ecstatic father.

Andre gushes, “She really is so sweet,” and he is right. As she moves about, she is cruising around while clinging onto furniture or our fingers. On the other hand, she is a nervous Nelly. We make every effort to let go of her, but she is able to stand up on her own. However, as soon as she learns that she is on her own, she immediately reacts with a “Oh, no.” She is, however, smiling. As much as she enjoys blowing kisses, she also enjoys waving. She gives a courteous wave to everyone and everything.

Sam continues by saying, “It means the world to us to celebrate Brooklyn’s first birthday knowing that she has a heart that is generally healthy and functioning normally.” We were very uncertain about what her first year would be like, but because of the wonderful gift that Mia and her family as well as the physicians gave to us, we were able to delight in her birthday and celebrate her strength and tenacity without being concerned or afraid about what her future holds.

By Anna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *