Baby closer to heart transplant, mother says

Baby closer to heart transplant, mother says
Laith Dougherty

PITTSBURGH, Penn. - The mother of a 2-month-old baby in dire need of a new heart said Saturday that the baby underwent an evaluation at The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to determine if he is a candidate for a heart transplant.

"If he is, which is likely, he will be placed on a transplant list and hopefully be able to get a heart soon," mother Ghadah Makoshi told KATU in an e-mail about her son, Laith Dougherty.

The family left Friday morning for Pittsburgh after the hospital there agreed to help the family. It offers something that very few do - a tiny heart pump that can keep Laith alive until a new heart is found. The hospital also has a high success rate - 90 percent of the children who get a new heart are alive at least five years later.

The average wait for a heart transplant for babies is 6 to 8 weeks.

The baby's plight came to light recently when it was learned he needed a new heart but the operation was going to cost about $1.5 million, far more than the family's insurance coverage could provide.

The story has attracted widespread attention and prompted appeals for financial donors.

The following is an e-mail sent Saturday from Makoshi to KATU News:

"It has taken me a few hours to get settled and figure out how to log on the Internet out here! But yes, we do have good news, we are at the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. We had also spoken to people in Boston and could have gone there instead, but chose Pittsburgh due to the reputation it had with pediatric transplants.

So thankfully we are finally past that huge first step of actually getting to a transplant facility! I must say that I don't think we would have gotten this far without all the prayers, love and support of everyone out there who heard the story and took the time to donate, and contact us and offer advice, suggestions and support.

As disappointed as I am with Stanford and Seattle Children's Hospital,  this unfortunate situation provided me the opportunity to see how as a community we can rally around a cause and I am overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude by how many people across the country and even the world heard and where touched by this story and took the time to support and pray for baby Laith.

It is still shocking to me that this situation is allowed to happen in our country and as I spoke to nurses and doctors at Doernbecher I was upset to learn that other parents had been in our situation, but were not as fortunate as we were to have found a facility to take us, and were forced to go home and watch their child die.

I think that you have seen as much as I have how much this story has affected people, and I think ABC can really play an important role in finding out the percentage of children in need of a transplant who are denied a transplant due to a lack of funds and inspire people to contact their state representatives and the white house and demand mandatory health care coverage for children.

The media plays such a central role in informing us of injustices that I hope that you and your team will be able to find out a rough percentage of those children denied and inspire the people in this country to demand more from our government and not allow hospitals to turn children away for any reason!

As for us, Laith will now undergo evaluation to determine if he is a transplant candidate (each hospital needs to determine this themselves), and if he is (which is likely), he will be placed on a transplant list and hopefully be able to get a heart soon. Thank you for all your help!