Izabella

Izabella's story.

Some people will explain transplant as a second chance at life. For Izabella, a heart-lung transplant was her only chance for survival. Using a multidisciplinary team approach, University of Florida Health physicians designed a treatment plan especially for Izabella’s rare congenital disease. Now, Izabella dances to the beat of her own heart. 




Many people were involved in Izabella’s care and were impacted by her situation. In this photo gallery, we can see what the family endured while staying at the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Now, Izabella’s on the other side of her battle, and continues to grow as a spirited, young child.

Izabella Neira is photographed with her mother and her surgeon Mark Bleiweis, MD, after Izabella traveled outside for the first time. Izabella Neira is photographed as an infant. Izabella Neira is photographed with her father, Jesus Neira, at the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Mark Bleiweis, MD, director of the UF Health Congenital Heart Center and chief of congenital cardiothoracic surgery at UF Health, works with a team member in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit. Izabella Neira is photographed with her team of nurses and physicians at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. Krystina Lopez holds baby Izabella next to Izabella’s father, Jesus.


“I’m really thankful for the little things that aren’t so little to me."

Izabella is the youngest infant at UF Health to receive a heart-lung transplant.

In December of 2011, Krystina Lopez was given little hope that her twin daughters, Jesubelle and Izabella, who were born three months premature, would survive. While Jesubelle continued to show progress, Izabella’s fight for survival had just begun.

At three weeks old, Izabella suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage, a life-threatening condition where the lungs bleed out. As a result, Izabella’s condition continued to rapidly deteriorate and she was placed on life support. At four months old, Izabella was diagnosed with surfactant deficiency caused by a ABCA3 mutation, a rare form of lung disease that can require lung transplantation. At the time, doctors gave Izabella a seven-month life expectancy.
 


"Some people will explain transplant
as a second chance at life,
but for Izabella this
was her only chance at life."


Soon after, physicians from UF Health, supported by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization that raises funds for medical research and increases awareness about children’s health issues, reached out to Krystina about transferring Izabella to Gainesville for a pediatric lung transplant. With little time to spare, UF Health ShandsCair successfully transferred Izabella in May of 2012 where she would receive a pediatric heart-lung transplant performed by Mark Bleiweis, M.D., director of the UF Health Congenital Heart Center and chief of congenital cardiothoracic surgery.

“Some people will explain transplant as a second chance at life, but for Izabella this was her only chance at life,” Krystina said. “Without Children’s Miracle Network and the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, Izabella wouldn’t have a second chance.”

As a result of the surgery, Izabella became one the youngest patients in the United States to receive a heart-lung transplant.

During Izabella’s stay at the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network assisted the family by making them feel at ease. For the first 17 days of their stay, Izabella’s family would sleep on a pull-out bed next to Izabella’s crib that was donated by the organization.

At four years old, Izabella, whose spunk and giggle is irresistible, continues to thrive and grow alongside her siblings.

“I’m really thankful for the little things that aren’t so little to me, like making friends and making connections. It would not have happened without Children’s Miracle Network,” Krystina said. “They’ve become a second family to us. “

Izabella at the wedding. Photo courtesy Amber Dorn Photography.

Photo courtesy Amber Dorn Photography.


UF Health Congenital Heart Center Services

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