SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital has performed the first pediatric heart transplant in San Francisco. Until recently, San Francisco didn't have a hospital equipped for the complicated procedure.
The patient's name is Andrea. Her parents did not want to give out her last name. She looks and acts like any other 11-year-old.
When ABC7 sat down to talk to her, she was wearing pajamas with ice cream and pizza designs.
But life hasn't been that normal for Andrea. Three years ago she began to show signs of cardiomyopathy.
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"What that means is that the heart muscle was stiff. So it's pumping OK, it's able to get blood out, but getting blood in is very difficult," said Dr. Jeffrey Gossett, a pediatric cardiologist at UCSF Benioff.
Playing soccer and basketball, which Andrea enjoys, was hard.
"When I was doing it I would get tired. Like I would rest for a bit and then go back," Andrea explained.
In March, doctors finally concluded she needed a heart transplant.
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"It was very a very difficult time for the entire family, crying all the time," her father Calin told us.
On July 1, Andrea was in the operating room undergoing a transplant, thanks to a donor.
About 500 pediatric heart transplants are performed in this country every year. Some kids die waiting for that heart. That's why signing up to be a donor is so important.
When it opened in 2015, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Mission Bay became an official pediatric center and was certified to perform heart transplants.
"We can't just say, 'Hey, we are doing organ transplants,' right? We have to prove to ourselves, to the federal government and most of all our patients that this is something we can do and do well," Gossett said. He was recruited from the heart transplant program at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. He's optimistic about Andrea's future.
For now there's only one thing on her mind: "To be home!" Andrea exclaimed.
The first ever child to get a heart transplant in San Francisco is doing well