Baby gets first heart and thymus transplant, possibly eliminating need for dangerous lifelong medication

Ivy Sinnamon holds her brother, Easton, who needed a heart transplant because of a congenital disease.

(CNN)When Kaitlyn Sinnamon was 20 weeks pregnant with her second child, doctors told her that her baby would be born with a heart defect that would require surgery at the beginning of his life.

Easton Sinnamon was born at Duke University Hospital with single ventricle heart disease, which meant his heart had only one ventricle, instead of two, to pump blood to the rest of his body.
After two heart surgeries couldn't correct a leaking heart valve related to his congenital heart disease, it became clear to his surgical team that Easton would need a new heart. But the transplant would require Easton to be on immune-suppressing medications for the rest of his life so his body wouldn't reject the new organ.
    These medications can increase the risk of cancer and be toxic to the kidneys, as well as making patients more susceptible to severe infections.
      Easton Sinnamon four days after transplant surgery.
      But doctors ran into another challenge while Easton awaited a heart transplant. After repeated infections, further testing revealed that he had a deficiency in a specific type of immune system cell called the T cell. T cells mature in the thymus, an organ that sits in front of the heart.