Miracles for McKinley: Little girl with rare procedure comes home with own heart

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY/SANTAQUIN, Utah (News4Utah) — It’s a big day for a 2-year-old little girl from Santaquin.

She’s going home for the first time in nearly 6 months after living through a rare heart condition. Little Mckinley has been living at Primary Children’s Hospital ever since a virus attacked her heart. Doctors kept her alive with an external device and today, instead of a transplant, she’s going home with her very own heart.

It has been touch and go for a good portion of McKinley’s life, hooked up to every machine her little body could handle. One of which is called the Berlin Heart. It’s a Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) except it stays outside of her body and keeps her heart pumping. 

 “That allowed her to recover, get off the ventilator, grow, gain weight, be active and the whole time had this device sitting outside of her body,” said Dr. Eric Griffiths, U of U School of Medicine, Primary Children’s Hospital.

Earlier this month, a pediatric heart surgeon, Dr. Eric Griffiths and his team removed the device after her heart was strong enough on its own. It’s a phenomenon so rare that Primary Children’s Hospital had never experienced before until now.
It took Mckinley less than two days for her to be up and running!

“She kept saying, dad, I’m walking. I’m walking,” said Brian Nilson. 

Her mother documented McKinley’s condition on Facebook, blogging every single day of her daughter’s journey.

Mom can add one more entry: McKinley’s homecoming!

The Santaquin Fire Department drove her home to her awaiting fans who have supported her every step of the way.
McKinley rode on the same fire truck, two years to the day when her dad came home after a tour of duty in Kuwait.

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