Heart transplant for Gage Bingham

Gage Bingham and Family

In the early morning hours on Wednesday, April 5, after 512 days on the transplant wait list, 8-year-old Gage Bingham became the third child in his family to receive a new heart at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

The youngest of five siblings, Gage had been suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening form of heart failure that also affected two of his sisters. Sierra, now 17, received heart transplants at Packard Children’s in 2006 and 2015, and 13-year-old Lindsey had a heart transplant in 2013. Siblings Megan, 15, and Hunter, 10, also have markers for dilated cardiomyopathy, but so far their heart function is normal.

Gage’s transplant surgery began at 3 a.m. April 5 and lasted seven hours. Parents Jason and Stacy and all of Gage’s siblings were at the hospital to support him and await the results.

“I was quite pleased with how this transplant procedure went,” said pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Olaf Reinhartz, MD, who led the transplant team. The surgeons did not encounter any major complications or bleeding, and the donor heart is a good match for Gage, Reinhartz said.

“The new heart started up on its own and did not need to be shocked back to life,” said pediatric cardiologist Seth Hollander, MD. “Gage did spectacularly well.”

Prior to his transplant, Gage’s heart had been supported by a pacemaker, implanted in February 2013, and a HeartWare ventricular assist device, which was placed in November 2015. The HVAD helped his failing heart pump blood and kept him healthy enough to be an excellent candidate for transplant. Gage is one of the smallest children to receive an HVAD, which is normally used for adults.

The HVAD also allowed Gage to live a fairly normal life while he awaited transplant. Unlike his sister Lindsey, who lived in the hospital during her 230-day wait for a heart, he was able to live nearby with his family and attend school. Lindsey received a different ventricular assist device called the Berlin Heart, which includes a large, bulky external pump that requires patients to remain hospitalized.

Fortunately for Gage, the HVAD is small and portable. The pump was inside his chest, and he wore a backpack to carry its batteries. Jason and Stacy were trained and certified to use the HeartWare VAD before Gage left the hospital with it, and Stacy, a registered nurse, accompanied Gage to school in case he needed help with the pump.

Some of the family had been living in Palo Alto during Gage’s wait for transplant, while his father and Megan remained at the family’s home in North Powder, Oregon. However, the Binghams were together on a rare visit to their home in Oregon on April 3, when a late-night phone call brought the news that a donor heart was available. Stacy flew to California with Gage, Lindsey and Hunter, while Jason drove overnight with Sierra and Megan. After a night spent traveling, everyone was at the hospital by Gage’s side Tuesday afternoon. Twelve hours later, at 3:00 am on April 5, they were there to walk him to his surgery. He walked hand-in-hand to the operating room with his mother while “We are the Champions” by Queen played from a phone.

Seven hours later, the family was very relieved to hear that the transplant had gone well, but after a total of eight heart surgeries for three children, they knew from experience that the next few days would be challenging.

“We know there is a stressful week ahead while we wait to see if Gage’s body will accept his new heart,” Jason said. “But we’re calm because we know that his medical team knows what they are doing. We know it’s a new chapter.”

Gage is expected to stay in the hospital for a total of two to three weeks, Hollander said. He will receive a heart biopsy one week after transplant to check for rejection. Once Gage is discharged from the hospital, the Binghams will stay nearby for another three months to accommodate frequent medical appointments and rehabilitation. After that, the family will be able to go home to Oregon, a milestone they are eagerly awaiting.

“As good as Gage was on the VAD, I don’t think he realized how much a sick heart affected the way he felt all the time,” Stacy said. “I can’t wait to see how he feels with a healthy heart.”

There are nearly 2,000 kids on the national #transplant waiting list. Consider registering as a donor. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people. www.donornetworkwest.org #DonateLife

Discover more about the Bingham family.


12 Responses to “Heart transplant for Gage Bingham”

  1. Seth

    First, this little boy has had an amazing journey and I’m am so happy for him and his family! However, I’m a little disappointed in the HUGE missed opportunity for this writer to have even put a single line in this article about the gift of life and how because of three families that have lost children and chose to help save the lives of others when their child couldn’t be saved. So many of these transplant articles focus on “the surgery” and don’t help the general public understand where the source of that anatomical gift came from. Once again, so happy for this family, but I think the author not honoring the hero family in a simple sentence is a huge missed opportunity, especially during national donate life month.

    • Sharon6i1

      On the last line it mentions to consider donation as doing so can save eight lives. However I too was dissapointed that the article didnt take better advantage of talking about (or even mentioning) the donors and their families devastating yet selfless donations of life.

  2. Seanain Snow

    Such great news! I’m so glad to hear it. Best wishes to all the Binghams.

  3. Diana

    Well everyone looks fairly healthy. Hopefully this will be the last surgery for this family. Having said that, Why keep having children that may (probable) have serious heart issues. why put them through all the pain and illness more than once? I know, you want as many children as can have to satisfy your personal needs. It doesn’t make sense to me. Oh Well!

    • Tena

      Great thing that it doesn’t have to make sense to you. I hope you never know the pain or choice of losing a child, aborting a child, or relying on medical advancements to treat a child. If you learn their whole story, you will find that they didn’t know there were issues until after they were born. In our family’s case, we knew at our 20 week ultrasound that our son would have to undergo 3 heart surgeries and, with today’s technology, will need a heart transplant. We chose to fight for his live, deciding that, if we found out after he were born, we wouldn’t drown him in the bathtub to keep from going through this. He has brought us more compassion, empathy and joy in his six years on life and I am blessed to call him son.

  4. Kapi

    I lost 2 daughters who did not manage to get heart transplant..Both passed away before their first birthday. Our only hope is ivf with PGD.

    • JulJenkins

      Hi Kapi. We are truly sorry to hear about the loss of your two daughters. There is no greater loss than that of a child. Our Bereavement and Family Guidance Program offers bereaved families supportive services to help guide parents and family members through this difficult time. We also offer a newsletter written by and for bereaved families. If you would like to learn more about our supportive community, and the services we offer bereaved families, please visit http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/service/bereavement

  5. Vera

    Scientific question: There is obviously an inherited genetic defect for this. Incredible all the kids in one family have it. Has the specific gene defect been identified? Can it be found in prenatal genetic testing?
    At any rate, on personal note, what a strong and wonderful family. Incredibly difficult situation they faced with courage determination and love. Also very sad for ppl who lost their lives but wonderful that the organ donor program could help others.

  6. Catherine

    Watching your story on MSNBC tonight the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Amazing courage in the face of such adversities, you are all heroes . Keep your chins up! I hope someday the cause of this illness in otherwise health well cared for children with no history of heart disease in the family is found. I lost my father when I was 4 to a “Rheumatic Heart”, years later my mom commented to me about how different our lives would have been if today’s technology was available back then. What a word “if” the worst in our language.

  7. lilly xyz

    It’s wonderful that we keep advancing w/ science and medicine to give the necessary help to those who need it. Good for them that they are all doing well right now. Just one more example, however, of why we need universal healthcare in America. Their financial liability and susceptibility to bankruptcy should not depend upon the individual charity of others. This would not be the case in any other western civilized country. Any American not supporting affordable universal healthcare should be ashamed of themselves, especially after reading stories like these. Part of the American healthcare system should not have to include GoFundMe sites, blog sites, foundations, fundraisers, car washes, etc to beg for money to help pay medical bills and get medical treatment. Shame on America. Remember these people and others like them who aren’t as lucky to have community support helping them financially to pay their medical bills. If you vote for the Republican party, they don’t believe in universal healthcare and are bent on taking away what little more health and financial security the ACA mandated, as well as reducing funds for Medicaid, leaving millions more Americans w/o affordable healthcare- currently, just to give tax breaks to corporations and the extremely wealthy. Take your conscience into the voting booth with you. And, if you don’t, shame on you.

  8. Scott

    I saw the Binghams story tonight for the first time, on MSNBC. I cried my eyes out for this family. I can’t even imagine the emotional ups and downs they went through. I pray God, that the family now can move forward and that the kids live a FULL, healthy life. I applaud the parents for their strength. The children have got the world’s BEST parents, that through everything they stuck together, and in this day and age says a lot about their character. God Bless them, and let’s NOT forget, the parents of the children that lost their lives. They had the heart wrenching decision to donate their”babies” organs so that others might live!!! God Bless each and everyone of them who make that very difficult decision!!! I ask please, everyone on most states IDs and driver’s license it ask if you want to donate your organs in case of death, to please check YES, and donate!!! You could be saving so many lives by doing so. Lastly, I wanna say God Bless, All the Drs, nurses, and volunteers/organizations that make these transplants possible. You’re truly doing God’s work!!!


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