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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – The families of two children who received donated hearts urged the Hispanic community to become organ donors.

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Two heart donations saved the lives of their children, 6-year-old Jaime Ponce and 14-year-old Daniela Saavedre.

The two kids got their new hearts at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, staying there for months before the surgery. They were tethered to a mechanical device called a “Berlin Heart” that acted as their own until a viable organ was available.

Doctors say the new technology allows children to wait for the right heart longer than ever before.

Jaime waited 387 days for a heart while connected to a mechanical device that functioned as his heart.

Daniela waited for seven months, also connected to the mechanical device that she fondly called Sarah.

The director of pediatric heart transplants explained that Jaime and Daniela “were on the verge of death when they came to us.”

“Being able to be supported by a mechanical assist device until the time of transplant was a lifesaving thing for them,” added Dr. Maryanne Chrisant.

Both were all smiles at a reunion with doctors and staff at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, showing everyone how well they’re doing.

Daniela grabbed a microphone on the table where she and doctors were all seated, and said cheerily, “Hello! Hellooo!”

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“They (Joe DiMaggio’s) have such a flawless cardiac program it’s not even funny,” the 14-year old said with great poise and pride. “They go through a surgery like, ‘Oh yea, sure, it’s just an organ we’re taking it out, it’s no big deal.’”

Her mom, also named Daniela, said her daughter and Jaime “had to be connected to this machine and to spend all this time in the hospital.  And all that is past, because the most important thing is completed.”

Jaime is much shyer than Daniela and didn’t say much.

But inbetween their checkups and playtime, they became little celebrities – talking to local media about their love for World Cup soccer stickers also known as Panini Stickers.

In July, both got what they were waiting for and became the 19th and 20th heart transplant subjects at the hospital.

“I’m just very glad to say that they have saved my life,” Daniela said with a huge smile.

Both kids still have a lot of recovering to do and will always be under medical supervision.  But their doctors say they can now lead normal lives well into adulthood.

Now, the family is urging the Hispanic community to become organ donors and give back to the community, to save lives like that of their kids.

 

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According to organdonor.gov, more than 23,000 Hispanics are waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S.  Of the donors who died waiting for a transplant, 13 percent were Hispanic.