WJHL.com - Kingsport boy waits for heart-lung transplant match

Kingsport boy waits for heart-lung transplant match

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By Lizz Marrs

Organ donors are always needed, but in a Kingsport boy’s case, the perfect match may be even harder than normal to find.

Right now, more than 113,000 people are waiting on a transplant across the U.S., and 19 of those die each day waiting.

"He's constantly just full of energy, and he's defied everything," says cousin Brooke Dickerson of 5-year-old Weston Keeton who’s home is now a hospital in Pennsylvania.

"He was diagnosed at 9 days old with Critical Aortic Stenosis and during that time he's had a few open heart surgeries. He's spent the majority of his birthdays in the hospital."

His heart problems took a toll on his lungs, and in May 2011, his family moved him to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to wait on a heart and lung transplant. An operation that his Dickerson says surgeons only perform 2 to 4 times a year worldwide.

To survive the surgery she says is very rare. Dickerson says in fact, no child has survived to adulthood.

Dr. Joseph Lee isn't Weston's doctor but he does specialize in transplants. Lee says finding a heart and lung for a 5 year old is much more difficult than an adult.

"In a pediatric recipient, they need to match in size as well so they need to find a donor who's about this patient’s size in order to make it fit," explains Lee who says it also makes it more difficult, that a recipient like Weston needs healthy organs. This means another child would have to die without having been sick. "They also have to injuries that don't affect the heart and lungs."

Such a match the family thought they found once.

"But it wasn't in the best shape," says Dickerson.

Dickerson continues to hold on to hope that Weston's new organs will come soon.

"I don't want to say fingers crossed but you just hope maybe this time, maybe this time."

According to the U.S. Department of Health the average heart and lung transplant costs more than 1.2 million dollars.

Insurance has told Keeton's, they'll cover 80 percent.

That means the family will still have to come up with a couple hundred thousand dollars once Weston's match is found.

Dickerson wanted 11 Connects to share that there are two Facebook pages for him: "Praying for Weston" and "Weston's Fundraiser Events Page"

She also said Sweet CeCe's in Kingsport is donating their proceeds this Saturday to Weston and Salsarita's in Kingsport is donating portions of their proceeds through the end of February.

There is also his CaringBridge site for updates: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/westonkeeton

And Weston’s mom Julie wanted to say a major thanks to: Eastman for continuing to be so good to Adam and their family; Pal's for sending Weston hot dogs (one of his favorite things!); and to Kari's Heart Foundation for being his #1 supporter.

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