6-Year-Old Boy Receives Life-Saving Heart Transplant After 4 Years on Waiting List
Carlos Rolon, 6, underwent heart transplant surgery at Boston Children's Hospital on April 3.
Less than two weeks after undergoing major surgery, Carlos Rolon is up and dancing.
The 6-year-old and his parents have a lot to celebrate—after four years on the waiting list, Carlos finally has a new heart.
"He's doing absolutely amazing, he's strong, definitely a fighter and he looks great," his mom, Sheena Cossette, told InsideEdition.com.
"It's a night-and-day difference," his father, Carlos Rolon Sr., told InsideEdition.com. "I'm excited for what's to come. I'm super grateful."
Carlos was born with birth defects including heterotaxy syndrome, which affected the development of his heart. He underwent four open-heart surgeries as a baby and was added to the waiting list for a heart transplant in February 2016.
More than 112,000 adults and children are currently on the national transplant waiting list, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
The family, who lives in Worcester, Massachusetts, anxiously awaited the day Carlos might get a new heart. But after Carlos suffered a life-threatening infection last August, he was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital to await a transplant there.
The family would remain in the hospital for more than 220 days before they got the call that doctors had found a match.
Carlos' surgery took place on April 3 against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which made it even more nerve-wracking for his family.
"It's been tough on all of us—mom, dad, especially him—and it's been a long road," Carlos Sr. said. "Four years of waiting and then finally getting a heart, it's just a big weight lifted. I feel like a whole new person right now."
Along the way, Carlos inspired his family, friends and total strangers by keeping a smile on his face, both on the good days and the bad days. His fighting spirit also changed his father's life, too.
"He saved me. He doesn't know it yet, but because of him, I quit smoking," Carlos Sr. said. "He inspired me to do better for myself so I could do better for him. I'm a whole different person than who I used to be, and I owe it all to him."
Carlos' mom said she's most looking forward to having him back home with his brother and sister. Carlos' parents have spent months shuttling back and forth to the hospital, and the expenses have added up, which is why they started a GoFundMe campaign to help last fall.
"I am so looking forward to us being reunited, I know he misses his brother and sister very much," Sheena said. "Unfortunately with this COVID-19, we are going to have to be quarantined for a while, but after that, it will be the biggest thing—getting all of our friends and family around."
Sheena and Carlos Sr. are also filled with gratitude for the family who chose to donate their own child's heart.
"We will forever be grateful for the selfless act, for the family who saved our son's life," Sheena said. "Always have faith, because miracles do happen."
For information on how to become an organ donor, visit OrganDonor.gov.
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