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Miracle Baby Undergoes Revolutionary Liver Transplant, Heads Home Happy & Healthy

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The families and staff at Holtz Children's Hospital in Miami are celebrating a medical milestone.

Surgeons with the Miami Transplant Institute, a partnership between UHealth and Jackson Health, were the first in the world to use two breakthrough technologies in order to perform a life-saving transplant on their tiny patient.

Michael David Antonio Angelo was born in September 2018. In January, he was officially diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a rare genetic liver disease.

liver surgery baby (2)
Michael David Antonio Angelo (CBS4Miami)

His only chance for survival was receiving a liver transplant, but his small size and weight presented a new challenge for surgeons.

The Miami Transplant Institute had only ever performed surgeries on babies weighing more than 13 pounds and Michael only weighed 8 pounds.

"We listed him and ended up accepting a liver from a two-year-old," explains Dr. Rodrigo Vienna, director of the Miami Transplant Institute. "But even still, it was very big, so we had to cut just a piece."

He, along with Doctors Akin Tekin, Thiago Beduschi, Gennaro Salvagi and Jennifer Garcia, opted to  utilize, what they call, revolutionary devices in order to make it possible.

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Several doctors worked together to perform this revolutionary transplant on tiny baby Michael. (CBS4Miami)

"We are left with very tiny vessels and structures we need to reconstruct," Vienna said. "We are very lucky that we had just started talking about this technology."

Michael's parents, Jill and David Angelo, live in St. Petersburg, but brought him to Holtz for his treatment.

"I thank God every single day that he sent us this amazing team that helped save my sons life. We're going home!" said Jill.

One of the devices is called the Thunderbeat, which allows for tiny and precise incisions.

The other, called the ORBEYE,  provides images magnified up to 26 times and shown on a 4k/3D monitor. The surgeons wear 3D glasses for better imaging.

On February 28, Michael received his lifesaving liver transplant. He was the first in the world to undergo this procedure.

His parents are grateful for the technology, medical knowledge and the donor's family who gave the gift of life. 

liver surgery baby
A healthy baby Michael is now heading home and his parents Jill and David couldn't be happier. (CBS4Miami)

"Because of them, we have our baby," said Jill.

"We will forever be an advocate of donation," added David.

Michael has been recovering in the hospital and now, a healthy nine-month-old is being released.

"It's unbelievable. I can't believe we made it here," Jill said.

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