Device helps keep toddler alive while waiting for transplant

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Hana Yago, a 20-month old San Francisco girl, spends her days at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford literally tethered to a lifeline.

"We're trying to make the most of it and create a fulfilling childhood for her and feel as homey as we can," said Hana's mother Kathleen Yago.

Hana has an enlarged heart that got worse. It is threatening her life.

"We were just shocked it happened to us. It's something you hear about on the news but it is happening to us," said Yago.

"The heart became so weak and enlarged that the weight of her heart collapsed her lung," said Dr. Seth Hollander, a pediatric cardiologist at the hospital.

Hana needs a heart transplant and is waiting  for a suitable donor. Normally, someone in her condition would be sedated and bed-ridden in an intensive care unit.

But she's able to move around like a typical toddler thanks to this cutting edge device called the Berlin Heart.
"She has tubing connected to her heart and a pump that hangs outside her body which connects to powerful oxygen tanks that draw blood into the pump and back into the body," said Dr. Hollander.

The device hooks in to a laptop that monitors the heart pump. Lucile Packard is the only hospital in Northern California that has the Berlin heart..

Hana has been waiting six months now for a suitable match. Doctors say that's pretty typical. But she can live with the Berlin Heart indefinitely. 

Hana's mother says the waiting is the hardest part. But someday, when her very sick little girl is older, she will tell her all about their days here.

"What I want her to get from all this is a sense of gratitude, just for life and the donor who has donated her heart to her, so that she was able to live and continue on and have a normal life," said Yago.