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Kylie plays with Mia in the hospital room, jumping around while Mia laughs. They watch TV together.

“Kylie totally gets that Mia needs a new heart,” Cervoni said. “She knows that Mia’s heart is broken and that she needs a new one so that she doesn’t have to go to heaven.”

Cervoni lives a split existence - with Mia at the hospital during the day, with Kylie at home at night. She’s on leave from her job in billing at a medical consulting company until she can return. But her husband was furloughed from railroad giant CSX in December, just two weeks before Mia was placed on the transplant list.

The family receives health insurance through CSX for now and will be covered under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, when CSX’s coverage expires. The family also will be eligible for Medicaid to help pay for the operation.

However, the insurance can do little to defray the secondary costs of the surgery, such as lost income and a lifetime of doctor copays and drugs for Mia.

Kevin picked up some shifts at Home Depot to help, but the family also started a donation fund with a nonprofit based in Indiana, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association.

Donation checks can be made out to COTA, with “In honor of Team Mia C” in the memo line, and mailed to the association at 2501 W COTA Drive, Bloomington, Ind., 47403. Or visit the website

The family’s goal is to raise $50,000. They are at about $39,000 now, mostly because of generous donations from their church and Mia’s maternal grandfather’s company.

Cervoni said her family has always helped others, and “to now be on the flip side of it is very humbling.”


Statistics from the United Network of Organ Sharing, the organization that manages transplant wait lists, shows that from 2009 to 2011, 69.9 percent of children up to age 18 received hearts within 90 days of being listed. But the data from 2012 and 2013 indicated the median wait time for a heart for children under 1 year old was 111 days.

Mia was listed on Jan. 3. There are 53 infants under 1 year old awaiting hearts across the country; nine are in Florida.

For now, Mia is doing well. She smiles, laughs and eats. Eating is important, because a key sign of heart failure in infants is loss of appetite. But Mia’s relatively good health may mean she’ll have to wait longer for a heart.

The scariest thing, Cervoni said, is knowing they may have to watch Mia get sicker while they wait. But even harder is thinking about the pain another family will have to endure.

“My husband and I buried a child already, and another family has to do the same to save Mia’s life,” she said.

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