Heart transplant gives toddler new life

2-year-old has spent most of his life in hospital

INDIANAPOLIS - A new heart has finally come to a Hoosier boy who waited longer than any other child in the state for a transplant.

Two-year-old Caleb Kinnaird was born with a defect which left only half of his heart functional. He's spent most of his young life in a hospital, with his family right beside him.

"We've lived in the hospital for almost a year," said Katie Kinnaird, Caleb's mom. "And we essentially moved our entire life here and we spend our whole day here in the hospital with Caleb and our other son Jonah. We spend all day, every day here. So you can imagine what that's like to totally stop our old life and try to make a life in a hospital."

Because of Caleb's age, doctors said finding a new heart for him was like finding a needle in a haystack. First, it had to be small enough to fit in a 2-year-old body -- about the size of a plum.

"The other thing is he developed some pre-formed antibodies against different allergens," said Dr. Randall Caldwell, a pediatric cardiologist with Riley Hospital for Children. "So we had to exclude about half the population."

Now a week after his transplant, Caleb's mom says he's "excelling" in physical therapy.

"Just knowing that in a few days he's going to be stronger and have more energy than he's ever had since the day he was born -- that's really exciting to me," Kinnaird said. "I can't wait to see him run for the first time and be able to climb and keep up with his brother."

Caleb's skin is also now pink instead of blue. And he's enjoying eating food, instead of being fed intravenously, for the first time ever.

"It's really neat to watch him eat like a normal kid," Kinnaird said. "Watching him attack a blueberry muffin this morning was just … it was incredible."

Kinnaird said she hopes to bring Caleb and the rest of the family home to New Castle in the next two to three weeks – just in time to meet the newest addition to the family, a little girl, Lucy, expected in just a few weeks.

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