(Note to Editors: At the family's request, no doctors or family members
are available for interviews.)
Nick Draper, who with his identical twin brother Nate had been awaiting a heart transplant since their birth seven months ago, received a donor heart today during a five-hour surgery at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.
Nick was listed in critical condition at 4 p.m. PST on Feb. 16 in the intensive care unit. His new heart was being supported by a miniature heart-and-lung machine called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
"We deeply appreciate all of the good wishes we have received during the past seven months," said Nicole and Michael Draper, the twins' parents. "It's a comfort knowing that our children are in the prayers of so many people."
Nate remains on the waiting list for a donor organ at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA. His brother received a new heart first because his name was added to the waiting list earlier. Medical complications prevented Nate from being listed until two weeks later.
Born July 11, 2005, in Phoenix, Ariz., Nick and Nate suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle is too weak to pump efficiently. Doctors say the condition is very rare in newborns and extremely unusual in twin infants.
When their heart function rapidly declined after birth, the twins were transferred to Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA for heart transplantation evaluation.
Due to the small pool of infant donors, finding a donor heart for an infant can be especially challenging. More than 89,000 Americans await an organ donation, with 3,100 Americans on the waiting list for a new heart.
By sharing their story, the Drapers hope to heighten public awareness of the critical need for organ donors. The family has three other children - a 6-year-old girl and 5 year old twins who are a boy and a girl.
For more information about the Drapers and how to contribute to a fund established to raise money for the twins' care, visit www.nickandnate.org. Well-wishers also may contact any Wells Fargo Bank to donate to the "Nick and Nate Draper Benefit Fund," account number 5763252060. Donations also can be mailed to the "Nick and Nate Draper Benefit Fund," P.O. Box 93433, Phoenix, AZ 85070-3433.
Californians interested in becoming an organ donor may register online at http://www.donatelifecalifornia.org/ or at the Spanish-language site, http://www.donevidacalifornia.org/.
One of the largest heart transplant programs in the world, UCLA's adult and pediatric heart transplant program has performed nearly 1,500 heart transplants since its inception in 1984.