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For Immediate Release:
March 31, 2016
Media Contact:
Lidia Amoretti
Jennifer Smith


Brother and Sister among the few in the Nation Diagnosed with Rare but Fatal Congenital Disease

Liam Garza, Holtz Children’s multivisceral transplant patient
Delilah Valdez, Holtz Children’s multvisceral transplant patient
Julissa Cerda & Jose Garza, parents
Rodrigo Vianna, MD, UHealth liver and gastrointestinal transplant surgeon
Akin Tekin, MD, UHealth adult & pediatric liver and gastrointestinal transplant surgeon
Jennifer Garcia, MD, UHealth pediatric gastroenterologist
Gaetano Ciancio, UHealth kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon


Just five years after transplant surgeons from UHealth - the University of Miami Health System saved the life of a Texas infant at Holtz Children’s Hospital, a rare congenital disease has brought that couple back to South Florida. This time, so UHealth transplant surgeons could save the life of their son.

During an ultrasound while just six weeks pregnant, Julissa Cerda received devastating news about the embryo she was carrying. It was all too familiar and hard to deal with. Her doctors in Texas noticed that her second child’s bladder was enlarged, and suspected he was developing the same rare congenital disease that also affected her firstborn, a daughter named Delilah Valdez. Julissa recalled what her daughter faced when she was just 16-months-old. It was 2011 when Delilah received a seven-organ transplant by UHealth surgeons at Holtz Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Now it was 2014, a new pregnancy, and halfway through this one a fetal medicine physician in Texas confirmed her worst fears; her unborn son also developed Megacystis Microcolon Intestinal Hypoperistalsis Syndrome (MMIHS)  or Berdon Syndrome. That’s a mouthful but in short, it’s a rare prenatal condition involving a dilated urinary bladder, which causes massive abdominal distension, microcolon, and decreased or absent intestinal function. The condition is usually fatal within the first year of a child’s life, though it affects just one in 1 million children.

In February 2015, Liam Emmanuel Garza was born and immediately placed on intravenous feeding or Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), which supplied all his daily nutritional requirements.

Julissa knew what to expect, having gone through the same ordeal with her daughter, Delilah, just a few years earlier.

Liam’s only chance at survival was a multi-organ transplant – and just a few hospitals in the United States specialize in these types of complex transplant surgeries for children.

Julissa was determined to have Liam treated at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, where UHealth – University of Miami Health System transplant surgeons had already saved her daughter’s life. In 2011, Delilah received a new stomach, pancreas, liver, large and small bowel, spleen and kidney– a seven-organ transplant that made headlines around the world.  Delilah, who is now 6-years-old and healthy, is thriving in kindergarten.

“I immediately knew that Liam’s only change at survival would be at Jackson,” said Julissa, Liam’s mother. “When my daughter Delilah was diagnosed, I did my research and I knew that Jackson was one of the few hospitals in the country that also performed stomach transplants.”

In January 2016, Liam was placed on the transplant list and brought via air ambulance from Texas to Holtz Children’s. On February 23, Liam successfully underwent a 9-hour transplant surgery, receiving eight new organs:  a liver, stomach, large and small bowel, pancreas, two kidneys, and bladder.

Liam is currently awaiting discharge. He recently ate solid foods for the first time, and especially loved carrots and sweet potatoes.

During a press conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital on April 1st, the family will share Liam’s and Delilah’s story in honor of National Donate Life Month.

When: April 01, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

Jackson Memorial Hospital
Ira C. Clark Diagnostic Treatment Center
Corner of N.W. 12th Avenue and 19th Street
Miami, FL 33136

Editor's Note:

Media can park outside of the Clark DTC

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Jackson Health System
1611 N.W. 12th Avenue Miami, FL 33136