The Pediatric Heart Transplant Team at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital celebrated the 50th heart transplant at the hospital when Timothy Jones received a heart on December 1.

Like most teens, 16 year old Timothy was enjoying the high school life, spending time with friends, working hard on his grades and playing the french horn for his school’s marching band.

Jones, his family and his heart transplant team celebrated his new heart and the hospital’s milestone by reuniting on December 18 at the Conine Clubhouse located on the pediatric hospital’s campus. The Clubhouse is home away from home for families of children receiving medical care at the hospital.

Timothy Jones was honored as being the 50th person to receive a heart transplant at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

“It was difficult and hard for someone like me, who’d been healthy my whole life, to have to get a heart transplant,” Jones said.  “It’s amazing to have a second chance at life, and I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Jones’ aunt, Marcia Wise, also expressed her gratitude to the team and donor family, calling Timothy’s second chance at life a miracle.

“Our family believes in prayer, and to look at Timothy today compared to where he was a few months ago, we call it a miracle,” Wise said. “To the donor family, thank you. We know it’s hard to make the decision to give part of your loved one to save someone else, and we hope we meet you all in the near future.”

“It takes a village to help people that are as sick as our patients with end-stage heart failure. If it weren’t for this [pediatric heart transplant] program, many children in Broward County and South Florida would not be here,” said Frank Scholl, MD, Surgical Director of Heart Transplantation and Chief of the Heart Institute at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

Halfway through his junior year, Timothy Jones started feeling sluggish and fatigued. He had to sleep sitting up, and it was at this point his parents brought him to the emergency room at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

An evaluation by the cardiac team revealed grim news. He needed a new heart. Timothy was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, primary disease of the heart muscle that prevents the heart from pumping blood effectively. He waited for a new heart in the hospital for two months, under the care of the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital heart transplant and critical care teams.

Jones went home on December 8 and was able to spend the holidays with his family.

Dr. Christant speaks at the event.

“Our 50th heart transplant represents a significant milestone for this program. It means there are 50 kids in South Florida who got a chance to live longer and have a better quality of life,” said Dr. Scholl. “We will continue to provide transplant and advanced heart failure services to the needy infants, children, and teens of South Florida for many years to come.”

“We’ve had the opportunity to participate in the lives of 50 transplant families and many more families with children who are affected with cardiomyopathies, heart failure, and other cardiac conditions,” said Maryanne Chrisant, MD, Director, Pediatric Cardiac Transplant, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “What we do for one child has a lasting and positive impact on the whole family.”

The expansion of the pediatric heart transplant program is on the horizon as well, according to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital CEO Caitlin Beck Stella, MPH.

“Some hospitals have taken 50 years to do what Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has done in less than 10 years,” Stella said. “We look forward to expanding our pediatric heart services to continue to screen and take care of babies and children with heart failure.”