"Eddie! Eddie!" Maria Aguirre called out as her son's squeals drowned out a telephone call.
"He's watching `Batman Forever,' " she explained to a caller, adding later, "He thinks he's Batman."The noisy little boy is Eddie Anguiano, better known as "Baby Moses," a pseudonym to protect his family's privacy when he underwent a pioneering infant heart transplant just four days after he was born in 1985.
At the time, he was the youngest person to undergo successful heart transplantation. Ten years later, he is the oldest living survivor of an infant heart transplant.
The 10th anniversary of his surgery was celebrated Monday at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, where one infant heart transplant was completed the same day and a second was under way.
Prior to Monday's two surgeries, Loma Linda surgeons had transplanted hearts into 195 babies under 6 months of age and 82 over 6 months. Some 205 from both groups combined have survived.
Eddie's record as youngest infant heart transplant was eclipsed in 1987 by Paul Holc of Vancouver, who underwent the operation at Loma Linda three hours after being delivered by Caesarean section.
But for many families with sick babies, Eddie remains the inspiration.
"He is the one that everyone looks to," said Anita Rockwell, spokeswoman for the hospital in Loma Linda.
Eddie's mom agreed.
"It gives them hope," she said from her home in Fontana, about a 15-minute drive from the hospital.
She knows the families' anguish. Eddie was born Nov. 15, 1985, with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, an underdevelopment of the left side of the heart that is fatal within days or weeks of birth. Her first baby had died of the same syndrome three days after being born.
"Back then it was very hard to look toward the future. We took it one day at a time. It was the most serious thing that ever happened to me," said Aguirre, whose marriage to Eddie's father, Nicholas Anguiano, later ended in divorce.
Unlike the situation with her first child, however, Eddie was born just over a year after Loma Linda surgeon Leonard Bailey stunned the medical world by transplanting a baboon heart into an infant known as "Baby Fae."
Baby Fae survived only 20 1/2 days after her Oct. 26, 1984, transplant, but Aguirre saw a chance. She even wanted Bailey to try another baboon transplant, but he never did another one.
"I didn't care where the pump came from as long as it worked. I didn't want to see another child buried," Aguirre said.
The call came when Eddie was 3 days old. A human heart had been found.
"All we know it was from a family up north. I think it was Sacramento or San Francisco. It was a little boy and that's about it," she said.Comment on this story
But hope mixed with uncertainty about how long Eddie would survive. Doctors now expect he will live to adulthood and "perhaps the normal lifespan," Rockwell said.
Ten years have indeed passed, though not without scares and ongoing concerns about his health and development.
Two years ago, after five years without a heart rejection episode, he experienced an episode but overcame it.
He must regularly return to Loma Linda for medication and examinations.