(WZZM) - We first met her in January.
Then, 15-month-old Sofi LaPres had been placed on a donor list for a heart transplant. Doctors originally thought it would only take a few months, but it took five.
Now, the waiting is finally over.
"In the last week or so, she really started to go downhill." Sofi's mom Kristy LaPres knew her daughter didn't have much time left. Krissy and Sofi had been living at Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor since January.
"She's been running fevers and her oxygen has been running low. And just to look at her, you can see around her eyes," said Krissy.
It was obvious to just about everyone that Sofi's heart was in complete failure. She looked pale, even blue, around her eyes. A sign that her heart just couldn't pump enough blood to her lungs.
"I was starting to doubt everything and wondering how much longer we'll be able to put her through this," said Krissy.
Now, Sofi's parents won't have to. Sofi's new heart was on its way.
Friday, April 24, 2009 at 6:00pm
Visitors and family arrived and Sofi was prepped for surgery. Krissy LaPres started to think about the surgery. "It's kind of weird to think that the heart we made her is not going to be hers any more."
But then a delay. Word comes that the family donating the heart has also decided to donate their child's liver. This pushes Sofi's surgery back nearly four hours.
At 10:00pm, Sofi's mom and dad put on her hospital gown. There were last minute hugs and kisses, and pictures, and Sofi laughs, as if to say I know I'm going to love my new heart.
It's time to walk Sofi to surgery.
And when mom and dad have gone as far as they can, they hand her over, but it isn't easy. Sofi's cries are more than heart breaking. Mom and Dad take in the moment. "This could be the start of everything going better for her or this could be the end."
Sofi's mom doesn't realize just how true those words are.
Moments later Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Richard Ohye is preparing to remove Sofi's heart, but she looks weak - and her heart stops.
"We weren't going to go online this early, but since her blood pressure was so low, we'll go on bypass now." Dr. Ohye and his staff immediately attached Sofi to the heart-lung bypass machine which keeps her alive while they remove her heart.
It was unusual this early in the surgery, but a necessity in Sofi's case. Her heart was just too tired to handle the stress of surgery. It takes over an hour to remove Sofi's heart.
At 1:10 a.m., the new heart arrives from somewhere in the Detroit area. Sofi lives without a heart for a few minutes while her new one is prepared.
It takes nearly 90 minutes to attach the new heart, but even longer to get Sofi to accept it. It takes until 5:00 a.m. when Sofi's new heart is beating on its own.
A tired, but relieved Dr. Ohye is happy with the outcome. "The function is a little bit depressed from being outside of the body and then being expected to start working again. Probably a little bit more in her case, but it's already starting to perk up," explained the doctor.
Back on the 5th floor of Mott Children's Hospital Sofi's parents were waiting. Dr. Ohye explains the surgery went well, but also tells Sofi's parents what happened. "While I was opening her chest her heart actually stopped...so that's a good indicator that she really was at the end of the road with that heart."
A few hours later they visited Sofi and her new heart in the ICU. For now they'll pass the time thinking about the future.
"One thing she's never seen yet in her short life so far, she's never seen the sunset." That's something Sofi's dad, Mike LaPres, can now make plans for.
"It's gonna be different having a baby with a whole heart." And Sofi's mom Krissy begins to think about what it will be like to chase around a healthy toddler.
Sofi has a heart, a healthy one that's filled with love for her family and the one that gave her the gift of life. Little is known about the family or the child who donated the heart only that they were from the Detroit area.
Organ donation continues to decline in the United States. In part because we have better seatbelts and airbags and other devices that save lives. But there are still thousands of Americans who haven't made the decision to become an organ donor, hopefully Sofi will inspire some to make the decision to share the gift of life.