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Sean Estes, KSL TV

Utah toddler flown to Germany for rare heart surgery

By Tania Dean, KSL TV | Posted - Nov 15th, 2018 @ 8:00am

3 photos

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Utah girl who needs a life-saving operation is on her way to Germany to get it.

It’s quite a mission, but for Chloe Caldwell and her family, it’s worth it.

“We call her CoCo for short,” said Chloe’s dad, Ryan Caldwell. “Her mom started that.”

A ride in an ambulance might be kind of scary for a lot of kids, but not for this playful 2-year-old. Maybe it’s because Chloe knows the only direction she can go from here is up.

“I had to give her her best chance,” said her mom, Treasure Caldwell. “She’s our everything.”

“About four months ago, Chloe’s heart suddenly stopped in the ER and they still don’t fully understand (why),” Ryan said.

The Caldwells said their ordeal started when Chloe came down with a stomach bug, but something went wrong. Chloe ended up going through several surgeries and even got an external heart device called a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD.

Doctors thought she wouldn’t make it, but so far she’s proved them wrong.

“Oh, she’s a fighter,” Treasure said. “She has defied the odds again and again and again.”

On Monday, Chloe boarded a private plane and flew to Europe for the LVAD explantation operation. Basically, doctors will remove Chloe's LVAD and repair her heart.

“It’s very significant because it’s the first time any pediatric patient has ever been flown from the United States to Germany on this device,” Ryan said.

What is an LVAD?

"A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a mechanical pump that is implanted in patients with heart failure. It helps the bottom left chamber of your heart (left ventricle) pump blood out of the ventricle to the aorta and the rest of your body. That is why it is called a Left Ventricular Assist Device."

The flight came complete with a German medical team that has done this type of surgery hundreds of times.

The reason the Caldwells are going to Germany for the surgery is because German surgeons do it more often there and have a much higher success rate than the U.S. Following the surgery, Chloe is expected to have 100 percent recovery of her own heart, meaning she will not need a heart transplant.

For those looking for options, the Caldwells want other parents to know this type of operation exists.

“At the end of the day, as a mom, I just need to know that I put her in the best hands, when it came down to it,” Treasure said tearfully.

And in this case, the best hands are at the next stop: Germany.


Tania Dean

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