Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Inspiring, well-chronicled boy receives long-awaited new heart

Published: 11:05 am CDT, April 21, 2014

Rylan Karrer woke up on Easter morning eager to dig into his basket of goodies. After 894 days of waiting on a heart transplant list, the plucky 11-year-old received something far more precious.

The Houston-area family was waiting more than two years for the  phone call that finally arrived Sunday morning. The operation began in the evening and at 11:59 p.m., his new heart beat inside his chest for the first time.

“Doctor said he is pleased with the new heart and it looks good,” the family posted on their Facebook page, I Heart Rylan. “The old heart was `pretty ugly’ and his atria were ‘huge.’ They are having some issues with the rhythm/pacing but they are controlling/watching it.”

Rylan on Easter morning

Rylan battled restrictive cardiomyopathy, the rarest form of cardiomyopathy. RCM can be difficult to detect, and can go unnoticed for the majority of someone’s life.

His tale was chronicled in a Story from the Heart in September, a Huffington Post column in October and the American Heart Association’s 2012-13 annual report. He and his family also have become powerful fundraisers for the American Heart Association, knowing that the organization is leading the way in researching conditions like RCM and has funded breakthroughs such as advancements in heart transplants.

April 20 already was special for the Karrers, as it’s the birthday for Rylan’s oldest brother, Dakotah. He turned 20 on Sunday. Here is a card that Rylan gave Dakotah on Sunday celebrating a day neither of them will ever forget.

The Karrers also expressed sympathy for the donor family, whom they noted “is selflessly donating other organs as well,” across various cities and perhaps states.

“Even though it is an exciting day for us, our hearts go out to the donor family and their tremendous loss,” they wrote on Facebook. “We cannot begin to express our gratitude and love to them for their amazing generosity. They will be forever a part of our family!”

Dad Andrew and mom Kristina with Rylan, along with siblings Dakotah (standing, right), Andreyah (middle right) and Jenna (front right), with his parents and siblings all wearing their I (Heart) Rylan T-shirts.

Images courtesy of the Karrer family