Youngest Transplant Patient's Sweet Smile Just Weeks After Surgery Brings Hope To Everyone

A baby born in October 2017 underwent a risky heart transplant. He was the youngest patient on the transplant list, but the surgery was his only hope.

Just six weeks after surgery, and just in time for the holidays, the little guy gave his family and healthcare team a positive sign: his first ever smile.

Little Charlie Douthwaite, the youngest transplant patient in the U.K., was born with half a heart. A Europe-wide appeal was made to find a match for the little guy quickly, and as soon as one was found he underwent the major surgery.

It was a scary time for everyone, especially his parents and loved ones, but the little guy has already proven that he's a fighter.

Tracie Wright, his 30-year-old mom, was very encouraged when her little guy gave her a smile. She says she's always got the camera handy because babies change on a daily basis.

"I had just taken one of him looking really grumpy and so I started laughing, and he looked at me and smiled," she said.

"It was overwhelming, just amazing. In that moment I forgot about everything we had been through."

"I just saw a beautiful baby smiling back at me and looking happy."

The mom quickly got her husband, Steven Douthwaite, in on the special moment.

Steven hadn't noticed the smile at first, Wright said, so she began nudging him. Then she snapped a picture of the now 14-week-old baby.

"It was wonderful to see our little warrior's first ever smile," the dad said.

The family first learned that Charlie would be born with a heart problem during a routine ultrasound mid-way through the pregnancy. He has what is called 'hypoplastic left heart syndrome', which means the left side of his organ was underdeveloped.

He also had a narrow aorta and a hole between his two remaining heart chambers.

The baby is steadily improving by the day. The family is trying to remain realistic, yet positive.

"Charlie is doing well, but we are taking one day at a time, and we don't yet know when he will be coming home," Wright admitted. "We're just happy he's come this far."

When Charlie's condition became clear, the mother took to social media to make a plea for a heart donor. Some 100,000 people online were spreading the word and trying to find a donor.

Thankfully the massive campaign worked.

Charlie's parents are so grateful to everyone who helped, especially the family of the donor. They post updates regularly on Facebook.

"We just wanted to let you all know that Charlie received his heart and has had his transplant," they wrote. "It hasn't quite sunk in that out there somewhere an amazing family gave us that amazing priceless most precious gift that could ever be given, in their darkest time they still thought of someone else... There (SIC) such special people."

"Thank you just doesn't seem like a big enough word to say to them. They gave our baby boy a second chance at life and for that we'll be forever thankful and eternally grateful," the parents add.

They're still taking it one day at a time. Charlie's chest is still open with a vacuum dressing, and it will close at its own pace.

He still has a long way to go, but the parents are hopeful - and it looks like Charlie is, too, judging from the smile.

"It's still early days for Charlie, having a heart transplant is a massive operation for such a small baby and we just need him to recover well," said his mom. "He's done well so far, we couldn't be any more proud of him, he's a real-life hero, our little warrior."

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: North News & Pictures Ltd

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