At only 8 months old, Lincoln Seay, has spent the majority of his short life inside the walls of hospitals. This week, however, marks the start of a new chapter: he is finally going home, or at least he’s one step closer to his home back in Alaska.
Only 21 days after receiving a life-saving heart transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Lincoln was discharged from the hospital with a new heart and a new lease on life.
“We’re so excited,” said Rob Seay, Lincoln’s father. “As a family it’s been a big celebration since we were discharged. We’re finally all under one roof again. It’s a tremendous blessing.”
The road to transplant
Lincoln was born with Heterotaxy syndrome, a severe birth defect that caused his heart to develop on the opposite side of his body. In addition, his heart had only one pumping chamber and most of the valves were malformed and did not function. Due to the severity of his heart defects, he needed a heart transplant to survive. He was added to the transplant list in November. But one heart-breaking question remained for the family and the team of doctors caring for Lincoln: would he make it to transplant? As each day passed, he was getting sicker and weaker.
“My tone changed in those final days,” said Seay. “I started to think about what life would be life without Lincoln. It was grueling.”
Seattle Children’s Heart Center performed 21 heart transplants in 2015, making it one of the busiest pediatric heart transplant centers in the country. Most transplant programs do fewer than ten each year.
“We had a list of patients and he was the one we were most concerned about,” said Dr. Michael McMullan, surgical director of heart transplantation at Seattle Children’s.
Because Seattle Children’s accepts and successfully transplants a wider range of donor hearts – larger or smaller, or coming from further away – than most other centers, the average wait time is only three and half months, half as long as the national average of seven months.
And that’s almost exactly how long Lincoln’s family had to wait for the call – 89 days.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mindy Seay, Lincoln’s mother. “When the doctor told me they had a heart all I could say is, ‘You have a what?’ I didn’t hear anything after that.”
The heart arrived just in time. Lincoln’s failing heart was on its last beat.
Starting new, and saying thanks
“Thank you isn’t enough for the support we’ve received,” said Seay. “No parent should have to go through this, but we can’t say enough good things about our experience at Seattle Children’s. And we are forever grateful to the donor family who gave us this life-saving gift.”
In an open letter to the donor family that saved Lincoln, Mindy Seay wrote a touching thank you to express her gratitude:
I want you to know there are no words to express the gratitude I feel for the mother you were able to be in those final moments, and that you were willing and able to give so selflessly to another. I want you to know that I will always have the utmost respect for the gift we will be given. I will treasure that heart more than I’ve ever treasured any gift.
Lincoln still has a long road ahead, but according to McMullan his future is bright. He’ll need to take medications for the rest of his life and receive follow up care, but his outlook is good.
“Lincoln should be able to do or be whatever he wants,” said McMullan. “He should be able to live the life he wants to live.”