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Family Calls Girl Who Died Awaiting 2nd Heart Transplant 'A Miracle'

CATONSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) -- A Catonsville community is remembering a 6-year-old girl who died after her body rejected a heart transplant.

Christie Ileto explains why the family is celebrating her life as a miracle.

Six-year-old Teresa Bartlinski was born with a heart condition and her family says she outlived everyone's expectations and that's the miracle they're celebrating.

"Just a little sweetheart, little angel pretty much," said Paul Bartlinski. "She had a strong will to live."

That's how Teresa Bartlinski's brother Paul plans to remember her after she lost her fight with congenital heart disease.

On her parents' blog, which chronicles her journey, family friends got the news Monday.

"At 3:24 July 1, Teresa has ridden her princess bike to meet Jesus. While we were not there when she took her first breath, God blessed us to be there when she took her last."

"She wasn't even supposed to survive this long and it's pretty amazing that she was able to. She's a fighter; she always just came back," said Paul Bartlinski.

Born in China, doctors say Teresa's heart condition weakened her lungs. After getting a heart transplant last month, her body rejected it. The artificial heart was intended to be a bridge until a second donor heart was available.

"It was the most beautiful experience of my entire life," said Father Christopher Whatley.

Father Whatley was with the family when Teresa drew her last breath.

"The machine was shut off; she never struggled and her mother said, `She's with Jesus. Just go with Jesus,'" said Father Whatley.

It wasn't just this Catonsville community rallying behind Teresa. Her journey touched people around the world.

"It's pretty amazing that that many people were touched by her. It says something about a six-year-old," said Paul Bartlinski.

The family says donations should be sent to:
Believe in Miracles
PO Box 21199
Catonsville, MD 21228

A viewing for Teresa will be Friday from 2 to 5 p.m.  and from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Catonsville. The funeral will be the following day at the same location.

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