(CBS) – Ava Martin – the Chicago area baby who desperately needed a new heart – could go home from the hospital as soon as next week, after undergoing a successful surgery earlier this month.
Her incredible progress comes on the heels of a tragic loss for a Tennessee family. CBS 2’s Brad Edwards has the story of little William Heard, who lives on in Ava.
“It’s just a tragic accident that we’re still in shock over,” William’s mother, Jamie Heard, says in an interview.
Her 2-year-old son William was with his nanny eating chicken noodle soup when he choked on a piece of food, she says. Only at the hospital could doctors finally remove it, but by then the child did not have a pulse. A last round of medicine revived his heart, but the child did not show signs of brain activity.
Jamie and her husband, Daniel, decided to donate his heart so that another child could be helped. He died Dec. 13.
Ava’s transplant was performed Dec. 14 at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Her mother, Amie Martin, expressed gratitude on Facebook, acknowledging that Ava’s life would be saved only through “a gift from an amazing family that in their darkest hour chose to give life to our daughter.”
The Heard family, who learned about Ava through CBS 2 reports, wants the Martins to know that everyone in their support system in Tennessee is praying for the girl’s well-being.
Indeed, Ava appears to be doing well. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich on Thursday visited Ava, prayed for her and her family and said he was impressed with her progress.
“She looks really vibrant,” Cupich said.
William Heard, who was known as Willy, had a four-year-old sister, Madeline. She got to say goodbye.
“He looked absolutely perfect laying there,” mother Jamie Heard says. “Everything was perfect about him, and she sat there and said, ‘You know, I wish William wasn’t dead.’ I said, ‘I know, honey, me, too.’ She said, ‘But you know, he’s alive in heaven.'”