Infant Gets Life-Saving Heart Transplant Moments After Going Into Cardiac Arrest

Lincoln Seay's family said the infant was looking "death in the face."

ByABC News
February 26, 2016, 3:37 PM
Lincoln Seay's parents said he was looking "death in the face" before his heart transplant.
Lincoln Seay's parents said he was looking "death in the face" before his heart transplant.
Ron and Mindy Seay

— -- The family of a Seattle infant said he was "staring death in the face" days before he got a life-saving transplant.

Lincoln Seay was born with a birth defect that left his heart in the wrong place in his body. As a result, he needed multiple surgeries to keep blood flowing and his heart pumping. However, after multiple surgeries, his heart was still not working properly and his doctors told his parents he needed a transplant.

His parents, Mindy and Rob Seay, temporarily relocated from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seattle so that Lincoln could have the best shot at survival. However at 7 months old, Lincoln's heart had begun to give out.

"He really started to decline. He had a cardiac arrest and they were able to revive him," Rob Seay told ABC News. His "color turned to purple."

His transplant surgeon, Dr. Michael McMullen, surgical director of heart transplantation at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said he thought Lincoln did not have much time left.

"He’s been pretty sick and getting sicker," McMullen said. "I think he was about to die on us, right before he fell off the edge, a heart became available."

But just four days after Lincoln went into cardiac arrest, Rob and Mindy Seay said they found out a heart was available.

"It was a whole roller coaster thing," Mindy Seay told ABC News. "I was shocked, I was elated, I was sad for the other family. I had every emotion you could think of."

However, Lincoln was not out of the woods yet.

When Lincoln was being prepped for his transplant in the operating room, he went into cardiac arrest again, McMullen said. This time they were able to put him on the heart bypass machine that was set up for the transplant.

"The remarkable thing was we were able to get him on machine quickly," McMullen told ABC News. "It can take two hours and we did it in 12 minutes and doing CPR."

Lincoln's heart transplant took hours but after the surgery his parents and surgeons noticed a difference immediately.

"His color is incredibly different, it’s pink and vibrant and he woke up with so much energy," Mindy Seay said. "We joked, 'He woke up thinking he was the Hulk.'"

Rob Seay said that with his new heart, Lincoln stays up for hours and no longer is so fatigued that he falls asleep every half hour.

"He was grabbing at my face and pulling my beard," he said. "He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his body."

While Lincoln is still in the hospital, McMullen said he's optimistic that Lincoln will be able to go home in the next few months. Rob and Mindy Seay said they are anxious to get their son home for good, and that they want to share his story to help other families in a similar position.

"We hope his story gives other families hope and raises awareness about organ donation," Mindy Seay said.