TODAY   |  June 24, 2013

Girl, 6, ‘extremely critical’ post-heart transplant

Ann and Ed Bartlinski already had eight children at home when they adopted Teresa, then 3, from China, who needed urgent help due to heart and lung issues. Teresa is now in “extremely critical” condition after a heart transplant last week, but her parents say she’s “a fighter.” NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> inspirational story now of a sick little girl that was not supposed to make it but she found a family that would not give it. tom costello has that story. tom, good morning to you.

>> reporter: hey matt. we first met this little girl in december. she desperately needed a new heart. a heart transplant . well, she got it but there's been serious complications. she went into cardiac arrest and spent the last week on a heart lung machine . doctors at children's hospital hope another surgery scheduled for today will give her that chance at life. give momma kisses.

>> reporter: when you're only six, princess gowns and tiaras are a big deal . especially when you're headed into surgery.

>> we'll see you with your new heart.

>> it was last december when we first met teresa . her adopted parents found this trail three-year-old with a shortened arm and three fingers waiting for a family. they already had 8 kids back home, four of them adopted but this little girl was so sick, she needed urgent help.

>> our whole intent was to bring her home and let her know the love of the family. we knew she was terminally ill .

>> terminally ill with only half a heart. her left ventricle missing. her lungs were permanantly damaged. doctors thought she would never be strong enough for a heart transplant .

>> my name is teresa .

>> but she was determined to get a new heart and her ears pierced.

>> and i'm going to get my new heart when i get my ears pierced.

>> she was named after mother teresa . a role model for them who believe special needs childrens in orphanages are too often overlooked. teresa has been a bit of a ham.

>> that was fantastic.

>> thank you.

>> last monday, the family was at the beach when they got the call through another family's tragedy, a heart was available for teresa .

>> i'm going to get my new heart and get my ears pierced.

>> at first the transplant went well but just a few hours after surgery, teresa went into cardiac arrest . for 30 minutes they performed cpr before putting her on a heart/ lung machine . her condition extremely critical. the only family she has ever known has been by her side in philly. a long way from bejing.

>> she is a fighter. she has the strongest will of any human i have ever seen. she is a saint in our eyes. she is a beautiful little angel .

>> good night. love you.

>> i love you more.

>> i love you more.

>> today is critical, in simple terms, doctors will try to widen her pulmonary veins so blood can throw into the new heart's atrium. the old heart's veins were too small to hand it will blood flow .

>> we know you'll keep us posted. the world needs more families that open up their hearts and home to children from all around the world.