Young girl receives heart transplant at Cleveland Clinic just in time

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CLEVELAND, Ohio - A 16-month-old girl with a very rare disease underwent heart transplant surgery in the nick of time at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Layla Ries was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy while in utero, but doctors say generally the disease should not have been an issue until later in childhood or adulthood.

Dr. Gerard Boyle says Layla's case was different, “These patients do get sicker over time but she got sicker faster than anyone anticipated.”

Dr. Boyle, a pediatric cardiologist specializing in heart transplants admitted Layla for observation, but by March 9th it was clear she need a transplant.

Her heart muscle was stiff and unable to properly fill and pump blood through her little body.

“We were scared to death,” said Randall and Alexis Ries, Layla’s parents, “We were thinking about the donor list, and how hard that is for somebody else to give a gift like that.”

March 10 they got the call and very quickly Layla was taken into surgery.

Dr. Boyle says the heart transplant was a complete success, “We expect her to have a good long healthy life.”

And Layla is improving quickly.

Ten days after the operation and already she is sitting up, playing with toys and banging on a drum as part of music therapy at the hospital.

Her parents say they are extremely grateful to everyone who helped save their baby girl; especially the donor family.

“It’s the hardest thing to do in the world especially when it’s your child."

"If it was ours we would’ve donated,” said Randall, “Without others donations she would not be here today.”