MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Mt. Juliet family is patiently waiting while their 10-month-old son remains on the heart transplant list.
Henry Smith has lived his whole life at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Henry was placed on the transplant list on Dec. 15, 2022. His nurse practitioner told News 2 it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks until he receives a new heart.
“It’s been just a difficult long road with no clear ending in sight,” Aubrey Smith said.
When Aubrey was 20 weeks pregnant, doctors detected an abnormality with Henry’s heart.
“Then a week later, he was diagnosed with atrioventricular septal defect, with a hypoplastic arch and left ventricle,” Aubrey said.
It essentially means he was born with two holes in his heart. Since then, he underwent three open heart surgeries.
“So that combined with other sets of defects put him in a position where he needs a brand new heart,” said Catherine Hayes, a pediatric acute care NP in the Pediatric Critical Care unit.
It’s a procedure that can take a while for babies and toddlers. Henry’s been on the list for almost seven weeks now.
“The waitlist time is the most critical time during the whole transplant process because Henry is so sick and all of our babies and children waiting for a transplant are so sick. Their at a really high risk for an adverse event,” Whitney Kaslow, a pediatric acute care NP with the pediatric heart transplant team, said.
“And Henry has been an especially long road, he’s not gotten to go home and meet his family and meet his whole extended family. We want to get him home and that’s the next step to do that,” Hayes added.
Hayes works in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital, where she’s helped care for Henry all of his life.
“They are family at this point. They are our hospital family, but family nonetheless,” Aubrey said.
Family that will continue to cheer Henry on, even once he’s outside the hospital walls.
“We don’t want Henry just to be his diagnosis, we want him to flourish in anyway he wants to. The big impact we want from this is for Henry to live a life full of joy and love,” Aubrey said.
Henry’s family has partnered with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association to raise funds in honor of Henry. So far, over $50,000 has been raised, which will help with all of the expenses the family has faced.
If you would like to contribute, details can be found here.