Children's Hospital Colorado

Juniper: Children's Hospital Colorado's Youngest Ever Recipient of the Berlin Heart

In the days following a birth, the work done by pediatric cardiologists has life and death consequences, literally.

Tiny Juniper Gelrod, or “Junebug” as her family and caregivers call her, was one beneficiary of the incredible work performed by the team from the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Shortly after her birth, she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that was weakening and enlarging the two lower chambers of her heart. It would be fatal if not treated quickly.

“Only 40% of babies with complex heart conditions are diagnosed before birth,” said James Jaggers, MD, Co-medical Director of the Heart Institute at Children’s Colorado.

Shortly after Juniper’s diagnosis, Children’s Colorado’s team of doctors performed a complex surgery and fitted her with a Berlin Heart that would perform the work of her sick heart while she awaited a donor. She was Children’s Colorado’s smallest-ever recipient of this lifesaving device.

Juniper lived at the hospital for six months, five of those months with the Berlin Heart. After nearly six months of waiting for a viable donor heart, the doctors at Children’s Colorado performed a complex surgery on then 7-month-old Juniper. She would be the Heart Institute’s milestone 400th transplant recipient.

Just eight days after having her new heart implanted, Juniper was able to go home with her family.

“We had a happy ending and a new beginning as a normal family. Sitting outside on our patio was something so small, but so huge!” said Joni Schrantz, Juniper’s mom.

Children’s Colorado’s outcomes are consistently better than the national average

Since 1990, the Heart Institute at Children’s Colorado has performed lifesaving heart transplants for children across the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. Here, hundreds of cardiac experts work together to provide care for children with all kinds of congenital heart diseases.

See our excellent pediatric heart transplant outcomes and our team's commitment to quality and patient safety

We thank all donors and donor families for their generous gifts of life.