19-Month-Old Saved By New Mechanical Heart, Donor - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

19-Month-Old Saved By New Mechanical Heart, Donor

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After eight months of waiting for a heart, 19-month-old Nathan Roberts received a donation and is finally out of the hospital, but that's only half of this baby's amazing survival story.

In another time, Nathan wouldn't be able to be with his family and play with his sisters, even just a few years ago, he wouldn't be alive.

"It really puts it into perspective how much of a miracle it is how much the timing of a few years now we have our Nathan," said his father Jimmy Roberts.

As Nathan waited an exceptionally long nine months for a heart transplant at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, the family's last option to keep him alive was a new and risky machine known as the Berlin Heart.

"The Berlin device had not been used on any patient in the state of Tennessee," said Nathan's Surgeon, Dr. Karla Christian.

She told the Roberts' family it may work but it also left the baby one tangled cord or blood clot away from dying.

"Without the Berlin device, he would not have survived at that point, the Berlin device was really crucial to his long term survival," said Dr. Christian.

"You could drive yourself crazy with all the what ifs and you kind of have to let it go and live everyday the best you could," said Amanda Roberts, Nathan's mom.

So the family waited either for the Berlin Heart to stop working or a human heart to be delivered. And it did. Just a few weeks ago Nathan was strolled in a red wagon to surgery where his entire future waited in a plastic bag.

His parents sat anxiously in a waiting room feeling relief, but also grief. Their joy meant someone else's pain.

"There's also that moment of thinking of that awesome family that was selfless enough to give, to say yes I'll donate, so that Nathan can have a life," said Roberts.

A life that is slowly getting back to normal. Thursday was Nathan's first full day out of the hospital since May.

"He doesn't know sunlight, he doesn't know cold. He knows a hospital room and it was the greatest feeling I've had in along time," said Roberts.

Because of privacy laws, the Roberts do not know who the heart donor was, but in a few months they will have the opportunity to write that family a letter.

They said words can't describe their gratitude but they will attempt to share Nathan's story and how much that difficult decision to donate.

The Roberts' are staying at the Ronald McDonald House and will be able to go back to their home in Alabama in a few weeks.

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