Infants from Groundbreaking ‘Domino’ Heart Valve Transplantation Reunite on the Today Show

The two families share how a transplant approach pioneered by pediatric heart specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital saved their children’s lives, with the potential to save many more.

The Skaat and Civil families, along with Dr. Marc Richmond, Dr. Richmond, pediatric cardiologist and director of the Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure and Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, visited the Today show to share how the domino heart valve transplant helped save their children's lives.

The Skaats and Civil families with Dr. Marc Richmond on the Today show. Left to right: Today show co-hosts Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones; Nicole Skaats, with Mia; James Skaats; Sam Civil, with Brooklyn; Andre Civil; Dr. Marc Richmond.

The Skaat and Civil families, along with Dr. Marc Richmond, Dr. Richmond, pediatric cardiologist and director of the Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure and Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, visited the Today show to share how the domino heart valve transplant helped save their children's lives.

The Skaats and Civil families with Dr. Marc Richmond on the Today show. Left to right: Today show co-hosts Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones; Nicole Skaats, with Mia; James Skaats; Sam Civil, with Brooklyn; Andre Civil; Dr. Marc Richmond.

Three months after an unprecedented domino heart valve transplant in infants that helped save the lives of two babies at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Mia Skaats, now 11 months old, and Brooklyn Civil, 5 months old, visited the Today show as their parents recounted the moments leading up to the pioneering procedure.  

A domino transplant happens when one patient receives an organ transplant and, in turn, donates a healthy organ or healthy parts of an organ to another patient, becoming both a recipient and a live donor. 

In a conversation with Today show co-hosts Sheinelle Jones and Craig Melvin, parents Nicole and James Skaats recalled the fateful day they received news that Mia was going to get a new heart. Little did Samantha and Andre Civil know, that call would also change the life of their infant daughter, Brooklyn. 

“There was no hesitation at all. We had waited so long for that gift, so to be able to give to somebody else, it made the moment that much more special,” Nicole said of their decision to donate Mia’s heart valves to Brooklyn.  

“I think about what the Skaats did for us, they got such incredible news and they were able to think of somebody else in that moment,” Samantha said.  

The two babies, who are both recovering well, their families said, were clad in bows and ruffled outfits as Mia babbled throughout the televised segment.  

Mia, who had a form of cardiomyopathy that causes a thickening and weakening of the heart muscle, received a full heart transplant, which then made it possible for the healthy valves from her old heart to be placed into Brooklyn’s heart through a partial heart transplant. 

Brooklyn had been diagnosed with truncus arteriosus, a rare condition in which her heart never developed a pulmonary valve and aortic valve, the two valves needed to pump blood out from the heart. Instead, she was born with a single outflow valve, known as a truncal valve, and a hole between the two pumping chambers of her heart. 

The Skaats and Civil families’ relatives and friends joined them in support on the Today Show.

“Using the valves from Mia to give to Brooklyn really changes the treatment for children with severe valve disease,” Dr. Marc Richmond, who led the girls’ pre- and postoperative medical care teams, told Today 

“Normally, that life is multiple, open-heart surgeries as they get older, because the valves don’t grow with them. But now, with freshly transplanted valves, they should grow with Brooklyn and in the future, really saves her from multiple surgeries,” added Dr. Richmond, who is also a pediatric cardiologist and director of the Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure and Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.  

“One of the nurses said that Brooklyn will always have a piece of Mia’s heart,” Nicole told Today. “It makes it feel like we waited so long for a reason.”  

Watch the full Today show segment here 

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