ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A young boy is spending his Christmas at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, but he’s happy to be there after receiving the Christmas gift of a lifetime.
By the age of 8, Kaiden Barron had already underwent five open-heart surgeries. His family said he was doing great until very recently.
“About six weeks ago, he started coughing up these very strange white things that were hard,” said his mother, Ashley Barron.
Kaiden was diagnosed with a rare condition called plastic bronchitis.
“Plastic bronchitis can be very scary,” said Dr. Amanda McCormick, a pediatric cardiologist at CS Mott. “Imagine if you’re coughing up these things that are almost like plastic, they can obstruct your airways and your lungs. You can die suddenly from it.”
Kaiden needed a heart transplant, which could take months.
“They wanted us to stay here because the plastic bronchitis is so dangerous,” Barron said. “He could choke at any moment.”
The family was told the wait time on the heart transplant list for them was about six month. However, after just two days on the donor list, a heart was approved for Kaiden.
“Two doctors walked in and they were like, ‘We have an offer on a heart,’ and I was like ‘Now?!’ and they said, ‘Now,” Barron recalled.
Kaiden had surgery and received his new heart Dec. 10.
“We got very lucky,” Barron said.
Kaiden wasn’t the only lucky patient at Mott Children’s Hospital this year.
“We’ve had an incredible year of being able to transplant 21 pediatric heart patients,” McCormick said. “Which is about twice as many as we did the year prior.”
Kaiden’s mom said the 12-hour surgery was incredibly nerve wracking, but Kaiden came out on the other side stronger than ever.
“He’s doing great,” Barron said. “He looked great before. You would never know something was wrong, but today he told me he feels better than he did before. That’s music to my ears.”
Barron said she will forever be grateful to the person who selflessly signed up to be an organ donor and saver her son’s life.
“You can turn something beautiful out of something tragic,” Barron said. " You can let your spirit go on by letting somebody else have a chance that they would not had.”
More than 2,500 people in Michigan are currently waiting on a transplant and organ donor registrations in Michigan have decreased by half amid the coronavirus pandemic.