PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Quinn Santini is an energized 2-year-old girl with a bubbly personality and a flair for making people laugh.
"When I describe Quinn, I always say that she loves life because she is so happy. She loves to make people laugh. She's just happy from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed," said Kellie Santini, Quinn's mother.
For a little girl with that much energy and even more heart, you would never guess how far she has come.
"A lot of people who don't know Quinn's story, when we say she had a heart transplant, they're stunned," said Kellie.
Quinn has cardiomyopathy, a rare heart muscle disease. Dr. Brian Feingold, the medical director of Heart Failure and Transplant Programs at UPMC Children's Hospital said, "In the general population, it would be quite rare. You're probably talking 1 in 1,000 of 1 in 10,000 or maybe less."
This was something Quinn spent five months in the hospital overcoming. In April 2018, Quinn was born a healthy baby. Her first week of life was spent in the hospital with lung fluid. Otherwise, she was just fine.
However, when she finally made it home, Kellie said, "She just was real lethargic, wouldn't eat for us."
And just two days later, Quinn was rushed back to the hospital.
"She was actually in cardiac arrest in Indiana Hospital. The team there did an amazing job getting her stable enough to get on the helicopter to come to Children's," said Joe Santini, Quinn's father.
After landing, doctors discovered Quinn's heart was failing. She had emergency surgery and spent two weeks on ECMO, a life support machine for the heart and lungs, before being hooked on a breathing tube for the next two months.
She was placed on the heart transplant list, her only chance of survival.
"We were watching our baby slowly die," said Kellie
At 3 months old, Quinn turned around. She found a donor and her life changed forever.
"She came out of the OR, she was pink, she was gorgeous. And from there, she went from being on life support to slowly becoming a normal toddler that she is today," Kellie said.
Today, Quinn continues beating the odds and is developing normally. Other than "survivor," she has since earned another title: "protective big sister."
"We joke around that she's a future cardiologist or future nurse because she loves to check her brother out and make sure he's healthy," said Joe.
There is no cure for her condition, but with her dedication and continued care at UPMC, the world is Quinn's playground.
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