Infant takes first breaths on her own after undergoing rare double lung transplant

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(HOUSTON) — A 6-month-old girl born with a life-threatening lung disorder is now breathing on her own thanks to a rare double lung transplant.

Kylie Overfield was placed on a ventilator immediately after her birth on Nov. 10, 2023, due to surfactant B deficiency, a rare genetic condition that causes abnormalities in the lining of the lung tissue, making breathing difficult, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The condition, which affects roughly 1 in 1 million newborns globally, can lead to respiratory failure. In Kylie’s case, the condition was so severe that doctors feared she wouldn’t survive long after her birth, which came on a Friday, according to her mom, Ashley Overfield.

“They didn’t think Kylie was going to make it,” Overfield, told Good Morning America. “She wouldn’t survive the weekend.”

Defying the odds, Kylie survived the next three months and, in January, was strong enough to be transferred from the Virginia hospital where she was born to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

“I’m telling you, she was feisty,” Overfield said of her daughter. “If she was fighting, I was never going to stop fighting.”

Overfield was told by doctors that the most effective treatment for Kylie was a double lung transplant, a rare treatment. Only 35 lung transplants have been performed on babies under the age of 1 in the United States over the past decade, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

At Texas Children’s Hospital, doctors were prepared to take on Kylie’s case, having performed more than 100 pediatric lung transplants since 2014, a total the hospital says is more than any other in the country.

“Specifically in lung transplants, we are one of the busiest pediatric lung transplant centers in the country,” Dr. David Moreno-McNeill, a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, told GMA.

After arriving at Texas Children’s Hospital in January, Kylie was placed on the waiting list for a bilateral lung transplant on Feb. 16.

Just two months later, doctors found a match for Kylie.

On April 17, Kylie, then just 5 months old, underwent a double transplant procedure, receiving two new lungs.

Following the successful surgery, during which a hole in her heart was also repaired, Kylie was able to breathe on her own for the first time in her life.

“I got my baby, so she has a life now,” said Overfield, who relocated to Houston with her husband and their two older children. “She gets a chance.”

Overfield said she and her family are especially grateful to the mom of the donor baby, who made the selfless choice of organ donation.

“I’m so grateful that she chose to donate the organs because she saved my baby and I’m sure other babies,” Overfield said. “My heart hurts for her and I think about her every minute of every day.”

Currently, over 103,000 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for a transplant, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

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