Kayden’s story

Feb 13, 2020

Born on Valentine’s Day, Chesterfield Heart Transplant Recipient Has Special Message for Donors

250x300strong,kayden2Belinda of Chesterfield, Michigan had two healthy children without any major health problems. When her third child Kayden was born, there was no indication that there would be any issues. That changed a few hours after he was born, when Kayden’s skin color was blue.

“I was still recovering from the delivery and in shock as my son was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan for evaluation and treatment. My son was born on Valentine’s Day and by the next day he was on a heart transplant waiting list,” says Belinda.

Kayden was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS), a rare life-threatening congenital heart defect in which the right atrium and right ventricle are underdeveloped. This causes a baby with untreated HRHS to have abnormally low oxygen levels.

Kayden was immediately put on medication to improve his oxygen level while a heart was found. Belinda says Kayden was eventually in a full oxygen tent and she could not even hold her newborn because he was so frail. After being on the waiting list for 68 days, a new heart meant new hope for Kayden.

“It was the day we were desperately waiting for. We received word that a heart was available. We were so thankful but also had mixed emotions that this heart came from a baby who lost their life,” says Belinda.

250strong,kaydensmileShe says the heart team kept her family up to date during the entire transplant procedure and it was amazing the moment she first saw Kayden after the transplant.

“To see him before the transplant looking blue and weak and then immediately after the transplant his color was pink and healthy was amazing,” she says.

Kayden is now 14 years old and like many boys his age loves video games and sports including baseball, basketball and snowmobiling. He has also participates in Northstar Reach, a free summer camp provided for children with serious health challenges including those who have undergone organ transplantation for children and their families.

Kayden’s pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Dr. Jennifer Blake who also volunteers at North Star Reach, explains Kayden’s condition has not stopped him from enjoying life with his hobbies and at this special camp.

“Kayden continues to do very well as a heart transplant recipient since he and his family remain diligent in the regimented medical care that is required to be a successful transplant recipient,” she says.

“Places like North Star Reach camp provide a “hospital-free” zone to interact with people they encounter in the course of their medical care in a fun environment. For me as a transplant physician, camp is one of the parts of my job I look forward to all year. I enjoy seeing and being with all the kids I care for on a daily basis just being kids and experiencing all the things kids do at summer camp. A camp like North Star Reach also allows the family to give their child a normal childhood experience knowing that their child will be in a safe environment equipped to maintain the necessary medical care required,” adds Dr. Blake.

As for Kayden, the Valentine’s Day born teenager has a special message of love for organ donors.

“I hope everyone considers being an organ donor since it can be so helpful and save someone’s life,” he says.

For further information on organ donation visit Gift of Life.