At any given moment, there are 3,000 people waiting to get a heart transplant in the U.S. Without enough donated organs, 20 people die each day waiting for a heart transplant.
This is the story of a child who was not only given a second chance at life but a third.
Twenty-one-year-old Peyton Boling loves dressing up and giving a heart-stopping performance. But a disease he developed when he was a baby actually caused his heart to stop.
"He had a massive heart attack when he was 8 months old," said Melody Boling, Peyton's mother.
He was placed on the transplant list for a new heart, and a year later, he got it.
"Then, in the fourth grade, he developed a chronic rejection," Melody Boling recalled.
Peyton's new heart was failing.
"It was very scary to know that my health was not in the best place," he said.
Transplant hearts do not last as long as a person's original heart. But with improving technology, the current average lifespan of a transplanted heart in children is 20 years.
At age 21, Peyton ended up in the hospital and back on the transplant list. He got his second heart transplant.
"It is very rare that you would get a chance at a second heart transplant," Vanderbilt University Medical Center registered nurse Edith Newberry said.
Newberry was the nurse practitioner for Peyton's first transplant 19 years ago. And she was there for his second one.
"To see him as an adult have another opportunity at a heart transplant has been pretty amazing," Newberry said of Peyton.
"When I woke up from surgery, I was in pain, but I felt there was something I couldn't describe," Peyton said. "I just felt better."
Soon, he was better enough to get back on that stage and perform his heart out.
Only about 12 percent of transplants worldwide are performed on children, and about 3 to 4 percent of heart transplants are retransplants.
THREE CHANCES TO LIVE: TWO HEART TRANSPLANTS! REPORT #2626
BACKGROUND: Almost 115,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. One deceased donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and can save and enhance more than 100 lives through the lifesaving and healing gift of tissue donation. Over 700,000 transplants have occurred in the U.S. since 1988. Organs that can be donated after death are the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and small intestines. Tissues include corneas, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, ligaments and bones. A heart transplant is an operation in which a failing, diseased heart is replaced with a healthier, donor heart. Heart transplant is a treatment that's usually reserved for people who have tried medications or other surgeries, but their conditions haven't sufficiently improved. Heart transplants are performed when other treatments for heart problems haven't worked, leading to heart failure. In adults, heart failure can be caused by several conditions, including a weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, a heart problem you're born with (congenital heart defect), dangerous recurring abnormal heart rhythms (ventricular arrhythmias) not controlled by other treatments, amyloidosis, and failure of a previous heart transplant. (Source: https://www.americantransplantfoundation.org/about-transplant/facts-and-myths/ and https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/heart-transplant/about/pac-20384750)
HEART TRANSPLANT RISKS: During a heart transplant, the patient is placed on a heart-lung machine. This machine allows the body to receive vital oxygen and nutrients from the blood even though the heart is being operated on. Surgeons then remove the patient's heart except for the back walls of the atria, the heart's upper chambers. The backs of the atria on the new heart are opened and the heart is sewn into place. Surgeons then connect the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through the heart and lungs. As the heart warms up, it begins beating. Surgeons check all the connected blood vessels and heart chambers for leaks before removing the patient from the heart-lung machine. It is a complicated operation that lasts from four to 10 hours. The most common causes of death following a heart transplant are infection and rejection. Patients on drugs to prevent rejection of the new heart are at risk for developing kidney damage, high blood pressure, osteoporosis (a severe thinning of the bones, which can cause fractures), and lymphoma (a type of cancer that affects cells of the immune system). (Source: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/qa/what-are-the-risks-of-a-heart-transplant)
SOLVING ORGAN DONOR DILEMMA: The most promising therapy to potentially ease the shortage of donor hearts is the left ventricular assist device, or LVAD. This is a mechanical pump that supports functionality in the left side of the failing heart by being surgically implanted just below the heart with a driveline that goes through the skin and connects to its external power source and controller. Another exciting innovation in motion is xenotransplantation, or transplanting animal hearts into humans. This has gained momentum in recent years, including a research study in which a pig heart was successfully transplanted into a baboon that lived longer than two years. When we become capable of transplanting pig hearts into humans, the availability of donor hearts hypothetically could be unlimited. While it's still in the very early stages, myocardial regeneration is a fascinating development. This procedure could help cure heart disease by stimulating or delivering stem cells to encourage regeneration of the heart muscle. Researchers are in the process of determining which cell types should be used in cellular therapy, and are still learning how to re-introduce cells into heart tissue for long-term survival. Another potential alternative to reverse heart failure is gene therapy. This is the process of introducing a new gene to the heart to correct some underlying abnormality in the heart muscle cells. Gene therapy is in the very early stages of research, and it's not ready for clinical use. (Source: https://utswmed.org/medblog/reducing-wait-for-heart-transplants/)