A teenage boy has made medical history at Stanford University, and just in time for the holidays.
Oswaldo Jimenez, a soft spoken 14-year-old boy, says he is just anxious to get home to Oregon. He has been in Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House since July, when he became the first child in the western United Stated to undergo a procedure called pulmonary artery to left atrial shunt.
Since he was 9 years old, Oswaldo’s family has known he needed a heart and lung transplant to save his life. He was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension, which made his heart more than double in size.
Despite this, he was not high on the priority list for organ donations. “There were other people who were worse off, if you can believe it,” Dr. Carol Conrad said, explaining the shunt kept Jimenez alive and strong enough to receive new organs.
A week after doctors inserted the shunt, donor organs became available and Oswaldo received his heart and lung transplant.
The teen said he is grateful he can “do things I couldn’t do in my childhood – running around, being with friends.”
During a recent visit at the hospital, Oswaldo held up a mask decorated with San Jose Shark’s fabric he will need to use outdoors. But Conrad says he won’t be going to any hockey games at least for another year because the chance for colds and infections in his new lungs is too great.
Meantime, Conrad says the breakthrough procedure could mean more patients with similar conditions to Jimenez may be more likely to survive the wait for organ donations.