Defensive back for the Chicago Bears, Charles Tillman, has two children with his wife Jackie:Talya,3 and ten-month-old Tiana. It is ten-month old Tiana,however, who nearly broke Charles’ heart.
In May, doctors discovered that a 3-month-old Tiana had an enlarged heart, a condition known as cardiomyopathy, which prevents the heart from pumping blood through out the body. Doctors told Charles that his daughter wouldn’t survive without a transplant; finding a transplant would take months.
In the meantime, Tiana would have to use an interim heart, a device called a Berlin Heart, while a donor organ was being found. Though the Berlin Heart is available for adults in the United States, none for infants have yet been approved by the FDA. Tillman had to plead for a waiver from the FDA before doctors could attach the device to Tiana’s arteries.
But Tiana didn’t have to wait too long for a heart donor. A donor was finally found a few weeks after Tiana had received her “Berlin Heart”. Tiana underwent an eight hour surgery to have her new heart placed. Charles says that he struggled with the fact that a kid had to die in order for his daughter to have a new heart: “I was happy, but i struggled with another kid dying for my kid dying for my kid to live,” says Tillman. I didn’t want anyone to sacrifice other than myself.”
Today Tiana is expected to live an active life. Charles says, “I’m looking at a miracle.”
Scans Courtesy of People magazine/Interview, December 8th Issue;Interview reprinted by Blackcelebkids.com