Mother of Heart Transplant Recipient

Why did Travis need a transplant?

“He was born with a congenital heart defect that was not repairable with any type of surgery. Travis had an atrioventricular septal defect with a hypoplastic left ventricle, which in very simple terms means that he had a large hole in his heart and that his left ventricle was too small to do the job it was meant to. His defect was not diagnosed until he was two months old. He was then transplanted at five months.”

Did you know about transplantation before your son needed a transplant?

“Only that kidney transplants had been done, that was how I first realized that the doctors might want to do a transplant for Travis. I remembered having seen collection jars in convenience stores where families were trying to raise money for their children’s kidney transplants. I had never really heard of anyone having done a heart transplant, but somehow I just knew at that moment we were headed down that road.”

Has Travis ever been sick again?

“Nothing out of the ordinary realm of childhood illnesses. He was hospitalized one year after his transplant for a routine heart catheterization and that is the last time he has been in the hospital. When he was younger he did get a few more colds and bugs because of his immunosuppressed state, but now he has developed many immunities and is a very healthy child.”

What would you say was the hardest thing for your family in regards to the transplant process?

“Waiting, wondering if we would get the right heart in time. And not knowing what his quality of life would be post transplant, it was very hard to find other families to share their experiences.”

Travis was just a baby when he received his transplant. How and when did you talk to him about his new heart?

“We’ve always talked about his ‘new’ heart. He has a heart party every year on the anniversary of his transplant, to celebrate the amazing gift our family received. As he has gotten older, we answer questions as they come. For Travis it is all just part of who he is, without much of the wonder that outsiders hold.”

How has your sons transplant changed the way you view organ donation?

“My husband and I were always supporters of organ donation. This experience only made us more vocal about educating others on the need!”

What advice would you give other parents who have a child in need of a transplant?

“Be strong, never give up hope, and lean on those around you for support. This is a journey that requires great endurance and the love and support of all those involved.”