CHICAGO —They were told the odds were slim. Perhaps even against them as their son Levi Olson’s name was added to the heart transplant list.
“They said it was a three percent chance we’d get a heart,” Levi’s dad Zach Olson said.
Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Levi underwent two open heart surgeries within his first year of life.
“It was agonizing to watch him slowly deteriorating,” Levi’s mom Lindsey Olson said.
To understand their pain, you need to feel the weight of a parent’s heart’s struggle knowing their child was born with only half of one.
“He looked good but inside his heart was so bad. He wanted to run and do all the things with his big brother but even going up the stairs got to be too much for him,” Lindsey Olson said.
That’s until last week when the Marengo family received a call they had prayed for, but never expected to receive: They had a heart for Levi.
Somewhere last week, a parent endured what most of us cannot imagine; losing their child. And yet they choose to donate their heart so another could live.
“In their darkest hour, to offer the gift of life, it’s one of the most selfless things a family can do,” Lurie Children’s Hospital Pediatric Transplant Cardiologist Dr. Anna Joong said.
More information on organ donation and Levi’s family campaign.
The heart transplant surgery lasted nearly six hours. That evening, Levi’s heart was beating strongly in its new home.
“The next day he was up walking around the hallway,” Lindsey Olson said. “It’s crazy. He is already walking further than he has ever been able to in his entire life.”
Each of our hearts have their own journey. Levi’s found him through a path most will never take.
“Levi’s new heart is really strong. For the first time, he has a heart with all four chambers and normal oxygen levels,” Joong said.
It’s a gift the family will never forget.
“Somebody made a wonderful sacrifice so he could get asecond chance at life and that, we could never be more grateful for that,” Lindsey Olson said.