Mar 14, 2022 -- A 10-year-old girl who underwent five heart surgeries – including one day after her birth – checked out of a New York City hospital recently after receiving a heart transplant.

Chi-Chi Soto underwent the transplant in early February, 10 days before her 10th birthday, at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone, Today reported. She was discharged Feb. 24.

“I look at her and I don’t believe it,” said her mother, Katherin Rivera.

Chi Chi (her nickname) was diagnosed in utero, with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause heart defects, Today said. She underwent her first open-heart surgery days after her birth in 2012.

She spent three months in the hospital neonatal ICU before going home. Chi Chi had four more open heart surgeries over nine years before being diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, Today said.

In 2021, after another cardiac episode, Chi Chi and her mother went to NYU Lagone and met Rocky Singh, MD, medical director of the hospital Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplantation Program.

"She just wasn't doing well," Singh told Today. "She really just wasn't feeling very active, had lots of belly issues, wasn't eating well, had low energy."

Chi Chi had cardiac arrest at home in December 2021. Her mother performed CPR and the child’s implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) shocked her heart into a normal rhythm.

"We were able to stabilize her on medications to support the heart function, but by that point, it was obvious that she was very sick and the only way she could live a long, healthy life was with a heart transplant," Singh told Today.

Chi Chi checked into the hospital’s Congenital Cardiovascular Care Unit and on Jan. 4 was placed on the waiting list for a heart. On Jan. 31 – much earlier than anybody expected – a heart was made available.

“I was prepared to wait three or four months,” Rivera said.

While another doctor performed the transplant, Singh said it was gratifying to watch Chi Chi recover.

“I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years ... and been a part of over 150 heart transplants in kids, and it never gets old," Singh told Today. "This is a patient who, to be honest, is lucky to be alive ... when you look at her life before the transplant, especially last year (where) she spent more days in the hospital than at home, it's so rewarding to see how we're able to take children who are very complex, high-risk in a sense, and give them a completely different life."

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Today. “Girl who survived multiple cardiac arrests gets heart transplant for 10th birthday”

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