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After 3-year wait, boy gets heart-lung transplant

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

It's a dream come true for a south Jersey family and their little boy. After awaiting a transplant most of his life, at last he had the surgery.

Riley O'Brien from Somerdale, New Jersey will be 5-years-old early next month. But he has been waiting for a heart and lungs since he was 18-months-old.

It's very rare for a child to need all three, but Riley was born with several problems that weakened his own organs and the conditions cause his major blood vessels to close.

Over his young life he's had 26 catheterization procedures to keep them open - the latest was in early February.

During their wait, his parents actively campaigned for family donor awareness to find organs, not just for him, but other kids in need.

Monday night, after 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days, Riley received a transplant.

For the Riley family '3' seems to be the charm. Twice before, Riley had been prepped for a transplant, however, surgeons determined at the last minute that the donor organs weren't suitable.

A family spokesperson says Riley is doing well, but it will be 'touch and go' for at least the next few days.

Riley's family has another hurdle to overcome - finding a new home.

Their current home, a converted doctor's office, isn't healthy - especially for Riley's new lungs.

It is structurally unsound and mold has been found in the crawl space and several walls. Doctors say he can't go home there when he is released from the hospital in 4 to 6 months.

The Riley family still owes $150,000 on their mortgage on their current home, so they'd need to pay off the mortgage as well as purchase a new home. Most of the family income from his father's job as a school maintenance worker goes toward Riley's medical expenses. The co pays went up substantially after the school system changed health insurers.

We will have more on his story as Riley recovers, and we wish him and his family all the best.

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