New documentary describes heart transplant family’s journey

Bingham family

On Saturday, MSNBC aired a two-hour documentary called “Heartbreak: Saving the Binghams” about a Haines, Oregon, family that is well known at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Three of the five Bingham children — 18-year-old Sierra, 13-year-old Lindsey and 9-year-old Gage — have received heart transplants at the hospital after experiencing heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy. The other two siblings, Megan, 16, and Hunter, 11, also have markers for the disease, but so far, their heart function is normal.

Over the years, we’ve reported extensively on the Binghams’ experiences, including Gage’s transplant earlier this year, how Gage lived outside the hospital for more than a year with a portable Heartware ventricular assist device, and Lindsey’s Valentine’s Day 2013 transplant, which followed a seven-month hospital stay on a Berlin Heart while she awaited transplantation. Video vignettes from the documentary are available online, including a segment that explains how the Berlin Heart works.

The Binghams were also featured in a 2014 story in Stanford Medicine magazine, which described the evolving science of treatment for complex cardiac conditions. Since the family’s heart-transplant journey began with the first of Sierra’s two transplants in 2006, researchers at Stanford and elsewhere have been working to bring stem cell advances to heart disease patients:

For a child or adult newly diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy today, treatment remains largely the same as it was for Sierra. Watchful waiting coupled with medication is still standard, although options for mechanical support for children have since become widely available and have saved many lives.

But many experts believe better options are coming: They expect research on stem cells to bring about a revolution in care for heart disease patients. These unusual cells, with the ability to turn into many other kinds of cells, could be used to repair damaged hearts and eventually, perhaps, make entirely new organs. And researchers like cardiologist Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, envision a day when stem cells are used not just to treat heart disease, but to quickly identify which medications are most promising for individual patients, or to pinpoint others that are likely to result in cardiac toxicity.

While they are hopeful that scientific advances will help their kids, parents Jason and Stacy Bingham are also very busy just living their lives with five growing children.

“Every once in a while, the true reality of what we’re going through sinks in,” Jason says in the new documentary. The family has had to meet extraordinary challenges but has also received extraordinary support, Stacy adds: “Every time we look around, we can see the love of other people.”

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4 Responses to “New documentary describes heart transplant family’s journey”

  1. Mary Strode

    I wasn’t able to watchoose the show on MSNBC when it aired – do you know how I could obtain the DVD or view it online somewhere else? Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Bonnie Bingham

    Jason is our nephews and I would love to know when it will air again so I can record it and save it…
    Thank you Thsnk you♥️♥️♥️♥️

    Reply
  3. Brittany Schwartz

    My two nieces, my nephew, and my two kids have DCM and I’d LOVE to see this documentary. Any idea on how to get it or view it?

    Reply
  4. Marlene muraszewski

    Upon reading an article in the paper here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin of your last child to receive a new heart..I added the 3 with new hearts to my daily prayer list for others on my transplant list..and for the hearts of the remaining children’s to be healthy..and for you, Jason and Stacey …for your health and well being…
    I have 7 children, all of whom are now adults…in relatively good health..
    I am 84 now and other than open heart surgery at 54. I am blessed with good health..not as active physically, but mentally able to pray for whoever needs my prayers..and for that I am blessed…

    Reply

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