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Baby Silas thriving after heart transplant

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ATLANTA -

A Henry County infant whose story captivated thousands of FOX 5 followers is thriving six weeks after his heart transplant.

Silas Huffman's mother Amanda says she cried the first time she heard – and saw – here baby's new heart on an echocardiogram.

Even now, Amanda says, "It's still fascinating to know that another child's heart is beating for Silas now. Every time I see it, it's just, you know.  It just makes me even more thankful."

Silas Huffman, then only 8 months old, was airlifted to at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston on Aug. 29 with severe heart failure.  Doctors call his condition idiopathic cardiomyopathy, meaning his heart had inexplicably become too swollen and weak to pump properly. He was eventually placed on a Berlin Heart pump to carry some of the load for his struggling heart.  On Dec. 8, after four months waiting, Silas Huffman received a new heart.  It was donated anonymously by another family, who lost a child.

RELATED | See more pictures of Silas here

Silas is now on the other side of a heart transplant, and the next few months will be critical.  At a checkup at the Sibley Heart Center at Children's, Dr. William Mahle, Medical Director of Children's Heart Transplant Program, says Silas' new heart, "Looks absolutely perfect. The old heart really just didn't contract at all.  It was thick as a rock, it was big."

Doctors now know why Silas' heart failed.  Dr. Mahle says, "We discovered that Silas had a genetic mutation that caused his heart condition.  So, we knew his heart would only get worse with time. So now he has a new heart, and that heart does not have the genetic condition, and it should work for quite a long time."

But Silas' "new normal" is tricky.  A few days after his transplant, he suffered a stroke, partially-paralyzing his left side.  His transplant team is hopefully he can recover.

Amanda Huffman says," He started physical therapy this week, so he's getting stronger on his left side from the stroke."   

Doctors are also trying to fine-tune Silas' medication.  Dr. Mahle says getting the anti-rejection drugs require a careful balance,

"And by that we're trying to turn down his immune system so he accepts the heart, but if we turn it down too much, we create complications," said Mahle.

Silas is still catching up to other infants his age.  Because of his hospital stay and surgery, he's just now learning how to eat on his own. He wears an NG tube to provide nutrition until he can eat independently. But he now has five teeth!

Amanda says every day with Silas feels like a gift.  

"Just to know that somebody gave him a second chance at life," Amanda said. "When his time was ticking, it was starting to tick there at the end."

But, for now, life for Silas Huffman -- miraculously -- goes on.

To see more photos of Silas Huffman, visit the Beth Galvin FOX 5 Facebook page.

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