Miracle baby gets heart transplant after five-month wait just weeks after thieves stole $3,000 from her medical expenses fund
An emotionally grueling five-month wait for one brave Florida family is finally over.
She will spend the next few weeks in hospital but Jaelyn's parents hope to have her at home for her first birthday
Late on Thursday evening the All Children's Hospital in Orlando (Florida) confirmed they had completed a successful heart transplant for Jaelyn Anderson. The little girl had been on the wait list since November 1 2012.
While Jaelyn can now begin her recovery, and her parents Brooke and Joshua Anderson, of St Petersburg, can look to the future with hope, it was only two weeks ago that things looked very different.
On Valentine's Day when callous criminals stole $3,000 in cash donated towards her medical expenses.
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Brave: After a five-month wait Jaelyn Anderson finally has a new heart
Relief: This is the moment that Brooke Anderson (holding her daughter Jaelyn) discovered that a heart was available for transplant. 'We got a heart! We got a heart,' she cried.
Jaelyn has been suffering from a potentially deadly virus called myocarditis, which has been causing her heart to expand.
Though she was put on transplant list five months ago because the tissue in her heart is so rare, the family were told that it would take a long time to find the right match.
So when her family were told that a new heart was available on Thursday morning it was an overwhelming occasion. And the TV cameras were there.
With one doctor's words, Jaelyn's parents' world changed.
'We got a heart! We got a heart!' her mother Brooke Anderson cried. 'I'm happy but I'm scared,' she said immediately.
Jaelyn's parent's appeared on Anderson Live on CNN today and explained how they were at first in disbelief about the possibility of a transplant.
Brooke said the fact only 'registered' after three doctors were all telling the couple that a heart was available.
The transplant was done on Thursday evening and late last night the Facebook page A New Heart For Jaelyn was updated with some good news.
Brooke Anderson can't stop crying with joy as she holds her daughter in her arms
Emotion: Jaelyn's mother Brooke burst into tears on Anderson Live after recounting the moment they discovered a heart was available and explaining how well their daughter was doing
Lifesaver: After a five-month wait a new heart for Jaelyn arrived, carried by a doctor in a cooler
When asked how Jaelyn is doing after the heart transplant, her mother replied Brooke replied: 'She's fabulous. She came out trying to rip everything out. She's amazing.'
The surgery went beautifully! She will also have a transplant nurse by her side through the night.'
'Jaelyn has had the new heart placed in and it is now beating on its own and she is off the bypass, so thank you for your thoughts and prayers.'
When host Anderson Cooper asked Brooke how Jaelyn was doing, Brooke replied: 'She's fabulous. She came out trying to rip everything out. She's amazing. They didn't expect her to be doing as well as she is,' said the proud mother.
She will spend the next few weeks in hospital but Jaelyn's parents hope to have her at home for her first birthday.
While waiting for a new heart, the family of the precious little girl racked up massive bills for her medical expenses.
Jaelyn's grandfather set up a charity and while many donated generously, on February 14 thieves made off with $3,000 donated to Jaelyn's cause.
Video: Jaelyn's parents discover a heart transplant is available
Heartless crime: Thieves stole $3,000 meant to help the parents of ailing Jaelyn Anderson with her medical bills
Good Samaritans: Jaelyn's grandfather, Rodger Anderson, pictured left and right, mobilized his co-workers at JetBlue to raise money for the little girl
In a bid to help her parents with the mounting costs of her care, Rodger Anderson, who works for JetBlue, mobilized his co-workers and raised about $10,000 in cash.
According to Anderson's colleague James Can Cleave, several JetBlue employees traveled to South Florida to collect a portion of the donations totaling $3,000.
But while they were having lunch in Orlando, someone broke into their van and stole the badly needed cash, along with their wallets, ID cards and luggage.
Jaelyn's grandfather said the heartless theft has left him devastated. His co-worker Van Cleave said it was gut-wrenching to find out that the donations were stolen.
Diagnosis: At six months, the child was rushed to the ER where doctors discovered that she has a virus called myocarditis that caused her heart to expand
Precious patient: The sunny nine-month-old girl has been living at All Children's Hospital while waiting for a heart match
'It's a 10-month-old little girl that needs a transplant and it's her future,' he told MyFox Orlando. 'Without this help and support it's such a big burden on the family.'
According to a Facebook page set up by the Anderson family to raise funds for Jaelyn, last October, the toddler was rushed to an emergency room after experiencing trouble breathing.
At the hospital, doctors have discovered that Jaelyn was suffering from myocarditis.
The smiling, rambunctious toddler has been living at All Children's Hospital since receiving the devastating diagnosis. The medical bills have been piling up, straining her parents' finances to the breaking point.
Complications: The toddler's enormous heart has caused Jaelyn's right lung to collapse, and doctors say her rare heart tissue could mean a long wait for the perfect match
Jaelyn's mother, Brooke, was forced to quit her job so that her daughter would not be left alone in the hospital. She told ABC Action News said the $3,000 would have gone a long way.
'She brings joy to everybody. She's so sick and she acts like nothing is wrong with her. I am amazed,' Mrs Anderson told 13News.