An infant named Barbarita Acosta, who also goes by the nickname Barbie, is celebrating her first birthday this weekend after overcoming incredible health challenges as a newborn.
Barbie was born with a rare condition called neonatal lupus, which attacked her heart, and she had to receive a pacemaker at five days old. Her condition deteriorated within a few weeks to the point where doctors said she would need a heart transplant to live.
“They told us that very same day that by the end of the night, she would be life-lifted out of there,” mother Angel Moreno told KCRA. “So, we came home and packed up as soon as we can. And we just got in the car and followed the helicopter. Tried to beat it there.”
Barbie was hospitalized for more than 200 days receiving treatment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.
Her heart surgery took place in September when she was six months old.
“It literally brought me to my knees. I was crying,” Moreno said. “We only had so long — I believe it was four hours — to make a decision if we wanted the heart or not. So, it was a really hard decision because there were so many good and bads to both sides of saying yes or no to accepting the heart.”
The transplant surgery was a success, and Barbie was able to return home to Sacramento, California, before Thanksgiving.
Barbie’s doctor expects the donor heart to last for several decades, giving Barbie a chance at a normal childhood.
“When I look at her, it’s really hard to believe she’s had a heart transplant because she acts so much like a baby,” Moreno said.